This is a verse from a short, beautiful, and misunderstood song written by the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet” as the later portion of his ministry occurred after the last good king of Judah, Josiah, died. After Josiah, all the great spiritual reforms were undone, and the judgment God threatened finally came about. It was one of the darkest times in the history of God’s Chosen People, and Jeremiah was right in the middle of it.
One of his writings, which comes after the Bible book named for him and containing his prophecies is a sort of “appendix” in the form of another book of the Bible. It’s called “Lamentations.” The title basically means “Sad Singing” or “Sad Song.” And it is. It is very much a deep, almost guttural cry to God. It is filled with regret, frustration, brokenness, and pain. But in the midst of it are these great declarations of hope. And hope in the only One we can truly place our hope.
But there’s more. For followers of Christ, we don’t have to “wait for the New Year” to experience newness, the chance to try again, to start over, to have a clean slate. Even before Christ came, the prophet Jeremiah, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, confirmed a deep and powerful truth… that “new” is available to us EVERY DAY OF THE YEAR. Each morning begins something brand new. Because God’s love for us never quits, His mercy is always available. And so, we can have “a brand new beginning” every time we need it. No waiting for New Year’s Eve. Not anymore.
So, to you who had a fantastic year and are looking forward to even more victories, even more accomplishments, even more opportunities, I remind you that should next year be more difficult than you hoped, God’s love never ends and His mercy is new every morning. And if you have another great year, His love and mercy are still yours, just the same.
To you who had a roller-coast year of ups and downs and unexpected changes, remember that God’s love is consistent and His mercy is unchanging. Which means He is with you in all of it.
To you that felt like it was a “blah” or “meh” year of bland nothing-special-ness, I remind you that God’s love is fresh and His mercy new. Which means what you might find insignificant about yourself or your life is of profound importance to Him. Enough to provide newness to you every day.
And finally, to you who had the worst year ever with pain only God can understand, I humbly remind you of the One who commissioned, as a supreme act of worship toward Him, a book of the Bible, a song, whose title is literally “Sadness.” So if all you have are tears and pain, then hurt deeply and cry hard, as your act of worship. Because no matter how much you hurt, how angry you feel, or how deep the pain, it is in a book called “Sadness” where God says that His Love for you never ceases and that His Mercy will be new again when you wake up tomorrow.
The classic tune, “Auld Lang Syne,” which basically means “old long since” or “the past”, and sung in the first seconds of the New Year contain these words among various variations…
And there’s a hand my trusty friend,
And give me a hand of thine,
And we’ll drink a cup of kindness here,
for auld lang syne…
So, whatever your year was, please join me tonight as I lift my glass to toast Him whose drink is Kindness… whose Love never ceases… whose Mercy never ends… whether in days of auld lang syne, or in days yet to come… Him, Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
Amen. And, Amen.
Happy New Year!