For the last few years, instead of a New Year’s Resolution, I’ve chosen a word. I fail miserably at resolutions, but choosing a word gives me a general focus that I can come back to or be reminded of as the months unfold. It has been helpful.
For 2018 my word was renew. What an appropriate word for 2018. I started out this year in Texas, running on empty. I am ending this year with a full heart in Florida. I won’t even attempt to find the appropriate words for the gratitude I feel. There just aren’t any.
I came across this scripture recently, and upon re-reading it, I knew immediately what my word for 2019 was going to be:
I remember my affliction
and my wandering, the bitterness
and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great
Love we are not consumed,
For his compassions never fail.
They are NEW EVERY MORNING;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is
my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
I’ve read that scripture about a million times. In fact, I quote a version of it often when the kids have had a long day (to put it nicely). I say…”God’s mercies are new every morning, and so are mine. So go to bed and let’s start fresh tomorrow.” And I often receive a resounding AMEN from Kevin in the background on that one. As familiar as I am with this scripture, it stopped me in my tracks this time. I love the way scripture does that. It never stops speaking. Never stops working.
I do remember my affliction. My wandering. My bitterness. And it does still make my soul ache. Most of the time, I do still feel shock that things have unfolded the way they have. It still gets hard to breathe when I spend time remembering. But somehow I am not consumed. Except not somehow. Because of the Lord’s great love, I am not consumed. There’s another scripture that explains it this way: “Pressed, but not crushed. Persecuted, but not abandoned.” This has been so true of my life. All the “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle” euphemisms don’t change the truth that over and over again I have found myself in situations where I KNOW I’m in over my head. And yet still, His compassions never fail. They are new every morning.
Morning. That’s my word. Because I am confident that God has and will continue to use all of my heart’s mourning and turn it into something beautiful as a new morning comes. He just won’t waste a drop of the suffering. I am so full of faith that this will be the case. I can’t even explain it.
Full disclosure, when I settled on the word morning, I wrote a bunch of notes on my feelings about entering into a new “morning” after a long period of “mourning” and what that looks like. But Christmas happened and those notes could literally be anywhere in the festive mess going on downstairs. So I’ll cut it short and share one more scripture.
I’ll be the first to tell you that The Message translation of the Bible may not be the version you want to grab when you’re ready to dig into a deep theological study (and if you know me, you know I love a good study), but the way this version words this particular scripture speaks to my heart. So The Message it is.
Psalm 30:11-12 (MSG)
You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I’m about to burst with song;
I can’t keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can’t thank you enough.