At church this morning, we sang the hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” One of the lines of that song is “Morning by morning new mercies I see.” The song is based on Lamentations 3:22-23, which states (in the King James Version): “It is of the Lord‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” God’s mercies are present on a day-by-day basis.
I thought about a contemporary Christian song that I used to hear on the radio to and from work. It’s by Out of the Grey, and it’s called “If I Know You” (click here to listen). The chorus goes: “If I know You, You will turn this day into a perfect surprise. If I know You like I think I do the worst of times will work out right.” At the end of the song, the chorus says “If I know You like I know I do”, rather than “like I think I do” (emphasis mine).
The idea seems to be that God can turn things around for the better on a daily basis in our lives. It’s not just a matter of plowing through each day, hoping for some distant breakthrough. Rather, God can turn this day into a perfect surprise. Each day, I can see God’s mercies. And the latter was said during a time of profound lamentation, when Jerusalem was experiencing things that many of us probably cannot imagine.
I remember someone giving a testimony at a church that I attended a while back. She was arguing with her husband earlier one day, and later in the day he bought his dream-car for a good price. Her husband was amazed that his day turned out that way! Her response was, “That’s the way God works.” Or there was Joyce Meyer, who said in a sermon that God knew she likes coffee, and God arranged for her to have a gift-card to a coffee-shop (I’m saying this from memory, which may be imperfect). Her point was that God may drop little gifts into our lives out of his love for us.
Many may read that and see it as rather shallow. But, on some level, I can identify with people looking to God to make their day better. When I am depressed, I hope and pray that something will soon happen that will make me happier, or that at least will alleviate my depression. I hope that God will turn my day into a perfect surprise.
To what extent I can call this outlook a “one-size-fits-all” approach, I do not know. Can I tell someone with clinical depression to cheer up because God will turn his or her day into a perfect surprise? What about the Third World? For that matter, what about the people in the First World who work long hours for little pay, or people who are hit with heavy medical bills? I believe that, in some sense, we can see God’s mercies all around us: in the sunrise, the sunset, etc. But, when it comes to God’s involvement in the lives of specific human beings, I wonder where God is in the situations I just mentioned. I once asked that question in a Bible study group, and the leader responded that poor people can experience God at a deeper level than the privileged, since they depend on God more. Then, he smugly chided me for asking my question, saying that I didn’t know much about the issue from my position of middle-class privilege—-even though he himself came from middle-class privilege. Smug as he was, there may have been some truth in what he was saying. I just have a hard time saying it’s the whole story. Would I be trivializing people’s pain, were I to say that God is somewhere in their situation?