What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?
For most of us, the first and most natural things that flood our minds when the alarm goes off do not produce praise or comfort. More often than not, the burdens of the day come rushing in before we can even take a couple breaths — a struggling relationship, some conflict, that meeting, the mistake you made, the task list that’s too long for today, the pain you’re feeling, that sin you can’t seem to shake. And underneath them all, there’s the nagging feeling that we won’t find the strength to make much of a difference about any of it.
If we’re not careful, those first few groggy, heavy minutes can define the rest of the day. We’re not naturally prone to follow the command to set our minds on things above, where Christ is (Colossians 3:1–4).
It has always seemed ironic and foolish that the first few moments after a full night of total, unaware dependence, we immediately wake up and go into independent, self-trust mode. We often trust quickly in our own “horses” and “chariots” instead of in the sovereign love of our Lord (Psalm 20:7).
Searching Our Anxious Hearts
At the core of these anxieties lies an unhealthy, unhelpful, and unbiblical self-reliance that simply cannot bear the burdens of life. God never meant for self-reliance to carry that weight for us.
“Why, after a night of complete dependence on God in sleep, do we so often wake up in anxious self-reliance?”
A mentor once said to me, “Anxiety comes when we look at our circumstances and then look at our ability, but faith comes when we look at our circumstances and then at God’s ability.” This advice has served me well in my fight for faith, and helped me to see and diagnose the complexities of my sinful, self-reliant heart.
Most of us believe, fairly easily, in the sovereign power of God (Ephesians 1:11), but often neglect or forget that it actually applies to us: to our lives personally and to our circumstances specifically. Perhaps part of the self-deceived self-loathing inside of us blinds us and keeps us from believing the truth. Yes, God is sovereign, but I’m too messed up or too insignificant to deserve that kind of power. So, we need to remember that the power of God is now ours through Christ (Ephesians 1:19–20), and that he promises us new mercies each morning:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22–24)
In Christ, the steadfast love of God for you will never cease. Never. His mercies will never come to an end. Never. They will be new every morning, and he will be faithful to bring them to you. If God is your greatest treasure, if God is the thing you love most, your portion, then you can hope in him with these unbreakable (almost unbelievable) promises.
The Lord Is My Portion
The Lord is not just a portion generically, but the author of Lamentations recognizes that the Lord is his portion. On the other side of the cross, we know better than anyone in history that the gospel purchases this portion for us: eternity with full joy in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11).
Lamentations 3:22–24 reminds us that, in Christ, the Lord will be faithful to be there every morning with enough new mercy to get us through today’s troubles, sin, and pain. The book is filled with pain, misery, and the consequences of a sinful and broken world. Yet, breaking through this is a glimmering gospel-hope that points to the sufficient, powerful, present, and faithful care of God for each child that belongs to his blood-bought family.
“God will show up every morning with enough new mercy to get us through all of today’s troubles.”
God feeds every bird of the air and clothes all the lilies of the field, and his care for us supersedes by far his care for nature (Matthew 6:25–34). He will be there with us every morning until the moment we fall asleep that night, and he won’t leave us or neglect us, even while we enjoy his good gift of sleep (Psalm 4:8).
Help and Protection Are Nearby
My son has struggled recently with fear more than ever before. He’s scared to go to sleep at naptime and at bedtime. We’ve reassured him that we have a safe house, that all the doors are locked, and that Mommy and Daddy will do everything we can to protect him. What we’ve realized, though, is that what he needs more than anything is to have someone there.
His child-like trust in us wasn’t gone, but when he wasn’t assured of our presence, of our closeness, very near to him while he laid in his little crib in the corner of our house, he easily forgot our faithfulness and fixed his heart on fears. So, we sit outside his door until he falls asleep with a smile on his face, not thinking about his fears, but thinking about our care being close by.
New Mercies for New Burdens
What does all this mean for today’s burdens? First, the very reality of these new mercies from God each morning means we shouldn’t be discouraged by barely making it through a day. Many days leave us broken, beat-up, and barely hoping. That’s okay. There was enough mercy for that day. There will be more in the morning. Fix your eyes on Jesus, and cast your burdens on him, again (1 Peter 5:6–7). He can handle them better than we ever could anyway.
Second, we cannot rely on yesterday’s mercies for today’s burdens. Go to Jesus afresh each day. Go to the word of God in prayer each day, and ask him to help you see wonders and promises that make your heart sing. Relationships take constant work and training. One of the reasons we may not feel like Jesus is with us, sitting with us when we fall asleep or when we wake up, is that we keep all of our appointments in a given week except the daily appointment we ought to prioritize with the all-powerful God of the universe. Ask him to show you more of himself, and plead with him for the new and unique grace you need today.
“We cannot kill overwhelming anxiety and stress with to-do lists. We need new mercy from a big, sovereign God.”
Lastly, we cannot kill anxiety, despair, or fear with well-written to-do lists and well-planned schedules. Rather, in all of our circumstances, it would be good for us to heed the words of Paul with new-morning mercies in mind:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
God is with us through Christ and, by the Spirit, his promises for new mercies are as real and trustworthy today as they were yesterday. So, let’s go to him often, cast our cares honestly, and trust him for the peace that far surpasses our limited understanding and that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Rest well tonight, and tomorrow morning, in Jesus.