If anyone understood feeling hopeless, it was Jeremiah. Nearly every prophecy he was given was about the ruin of some kingdom. Worse, he knew that the prophecies came with caveats; conditions that could turn aside the worst of things. If people would surrender to the invader who was executing God’s judgment, then those people would live and not endure a horrific siege. In the midst of receiving and passing along terrible news and in the midst of enduring the siege with those who refused to listen and take the path of gentler discipline, Jeremiah remembers.
He writes that God’s compassions and lovingkindnesses; His mercy never cease and do not fail. Jeremiah remembers that both compassion and mercy are new every morning. Every new day seems to bring with it a new example of God’s forbearance and longsuffering with us. Every new day brings fresh mercies and a new wave of compassion. That God would do this; that He would renew His mercy and compassion toward us every day is staggering and Jeremiah responds with the statement that God’s faithfulness is great.
This morning, I want to focus in on the first portion of these few verses. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. I have been struggling with feeling anxious about something on the schedule horizon for a few days now and nothing seemed to be setting me at ease. I kept looking for comfort from friends and family, but everything everyone said just made the anxiety worsen. And this was everyone trying to be helpful. The anxiety has lessened and my heart sits more at ease than just two days ago, but it did not get there by comforting words from friends or encouragement of family. My heart came to a place of increased peace when I did what Jeremiah did: I recalled to mind the attributes of God.
A knowledge — experiential, not conceptual — of Who God is is more necessary than I often realize. His character; His repeated actions toward me and others is a source not only of understanding Him in some small measure but also of comfort and hope for me and every other believer. Aristotle once said that we are what we repeatedly do. This is never more true than when it is applied to God. He is what He repeatedly does. He loves and The Bible declares that He is love (I John 4:8, 16). He tells us the (often painful and sometimes unpleasant) truth and He is declared to be the Truth (John 14:6). Over and over, I find that His declared character and His actions are in agreement. So, when I thought about the verse that says God has not given me a spirit of fear and another that says that perfect love casts out fear, I understood that the fear I was allowing residence in my mind and heart was not from God. When I recognized that and I took it to Him and agreed with Him that fear is not His tool and that my fear and anxiety showed my lack of trust in Him and Who He has shown Himself to be, then the fear subsided. There is still nervousness — I am walking into unknown experiential territory — but the mind-numbing, soul-crushing fear has retreated. It keeps trying to make a resurgence and I, like Jeremiah, must recall to my mind what I have heard and seen and experienced of God’s character.
And all that I have seen and heard and experienced tells me that God is good and His mercy endures forever. Let me recall to my mind what I have heard and seen and experienced of God when circumstance would crush me. If I recall these things, then I have hope.