The book of Lamentations is one of those Old Testament books that even most people who read the Bible regularly do not read very often. In fact, just the name of the book sounds depressing; after all, who wants to read about someone’s lament? It is a book with powerful truths about the faithfulness of God, though, and it contains a verse that many can quote, or at least paraphrase, though they may not know the reference.
Lamentations 3:22-23 reads, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (ESV). Anyone who grew up in churches that sang hymns will also recognize that this verse was the inspiration for the wonderful old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness.”
There is a wonderful parallel truth between this passage and Matthew 6:34, I think. In Lamentations we are reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning. In Matthew 6:34 we read, “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (ESV).
I do not think it is coincidental that in Matthew Jesus teaches that each day has trouble enough without worrying, or becoming anxious, about what might happen tomorrow or anytime thereafter, and in Lamentations we are reminded that God’s mercies are new every morning.
Matthew 6:34 comes at the end of Jesus’ teaching about not being anxious, teaching that includes reminders about the facts that God provides for the needs of the birds, and humans are far more important than birds; that worrying cannot add a single thing to one’s life; and that God is well aware of our needs–and will provide for them.
Unfortunately, many people–myself, sometimes included–get focused on what the future may hold, what tomorrow may bring. I am referring mostly to an apprehensive worry about the future, but the same can be true of excitement or enthusiasm about the future, too. We can get so caught up planning and looking forward to a vacation, a wedding, a party–fill in the blank with the exciting event of your choice–that we miss out on today.
I am well aware that the instruction to not be anxious is far easier said than done. I certainly have not mastered it. But the truth is, God promises to give us new mercies each day, and exhorts us not to worry about anything beyond today. Each day has its own supply of trouble, Jesus said, and God will provide new mercies each morning, according to Lamentations. In other words, God will give us what we need to get through today, but He does not promise to give us knowledge or, or mercies for, tomorrow or beyond.
Does that mean we should not care about tomorrow? I don’t think so. I does not mean that we cannot plan, or that we cannot pray, or that we must somehow erect a wall in our lives that prevents us from seeing beyond the end of today. Planning is biblical, after all. But the truth of James 4:13-16 applies to both planning and worrying. Just as we must not say “tomorrow I will do this, and next week I will go there, and by this time next year this will happen,” we also must not spend time worrying, “what if this happens tomorrow, and what if the test is positive next month, and how will we cope if next year the worst has happened?” Why mustn’t we? Because, James 4:414 says, “you do not know what tomorrow will bring.”
The reality is, tomorrow could be much worse that I fear, or it could be far better. Ultimately, I simply do not know. And God has ordained that I do not need to know. All He asks of me is to trust Him that whatever tomorrow brings, He will give me fresh mercies to make it through, and His will will be done. He will not abandon me, He will not let me walk through tomorrow unaccompanied–because His faithfulness is great.
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
“Great is Thy faithfulness!” “Great is Thy faithfulness!”
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
“Great is Thy faithfulness,” Lord, unto me!