Years ago as a new Christian, I went to an old-fashioned church where, when it came time for prayer requests, almost always someone asked for “traveling mercies.”
I later learned that in the late 19th century it was common to pray for traveling mercies for missionaries who were going to remote parts of the world, especially places that were dangerous and unpredictable.
Things are so crazy in today’s 21st century world that we all need traveling mercies just to go to Walmart.
In the Old Testament book of Lamentations, the writer, who is traditionally thought to have been the prophet Jeremiah, wrote these familiar words:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your (God’s) faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).
These words follow a string of laments after Jeremiah had witnessed the Israelite army’s overwhelming defeat, their riches plundered, their cities looted and burned, and those who were not killed were taken captive.
As Jeremiah weeps over the nation’s calamity and ruin, he writes things like: “I am the man who has seen affliction,” “My soul is bereft of peace” and “My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord.”
Then he pivots: “But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope,” he writes, and then recalls God’s faithfulness, unwavering love and fresh mercies.
No matter how bad things get, God’s people have always been able to celebrate the mercies of their God.
Recently, I read a sermon from a pastor in Texas based on this passage of scripture.
He said because every day will bring new duties and challenges, new trials and difficulties, new temptations to sin, to doubt or to quit, we need a fresh reminder each morning before our feet hit the ground that no matter what the day will bring, no matter what’s in the day’s headlines or how we feel or think about what’s going on around us, God is faithful.
He is faithful to forgive, faithful to meet our needs for strength and wisdom and daily bread.
He is faithful to deliver us from temptation and evil when we cry out to him. He is faithful to sympathize with us in our weakness, faithful to finish what he started in us.
God is faithful to fulfill every promise he has made.
He is faithful to show mercy.
Whenever I get anxious, if I take the time to pause my anxious thoughts, I think about birds.
I don’t particularly like birds, but God does.
Jesus said to anxious people: “Look at the birds of the air. They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26)
He also said: “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? … Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 2:29-31).
God cares for sparrows and he cares for you and for me, in good times and in times that are dangerous and unpredictable.
His mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness, even as we travel through 2022.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria – I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.