We continued our series of “God-stories” this week with this contribution from Kathy Anderson where she shared her experience of God’s great faithfulness.
My late mother-in-law loved the color blue. As a result, my father-in-law would be sure to plant as many blue flowers as possible in their backyard garden. Growing up in south Texas, I was familiar with all sorts of tropical plants: poinsettias, bougainvillea, oleander, hibiscus, but northern plants were all new to me. So when we moved to Nebraska, I was always looking to my in-law’s flower garden for inspiration for mine. One plant especially intrigued me. I found it was actually a wildflower—the blue flax—that my father-in-law would grow from seed. You’ll often see it growing in the ditches around here in late May and early June.
I loved that plant. Not only were the flowers a gorgeous shade of blue, but they were also dainty and delicate and seemed to dance with the slightest breeze. In fact, the blossoms were so fragile that by the end of each day, the plant would be bare, the ground at its base a carpet of blue petals. Yet each morning, when I’d look out at the garden, the plant would once again be covered with brilliant blue flowers. I got so I called them my God’s Mercy flowers because they reminded me of that familiar verse that tells us God’s mercy is new every morning.
Like many familiar verses, I think this particular one takes on even deeper meaning when we look at it in context. You’ll find it in Lamentations shining like a diamond on a very black background. The book is just what it says it is—a lament, a mournful cry, a funeral dirge. The prophet, probably Jeremiah, is in mourning because everything he’d prophesied for the nation of Judah had come to pass. Because of the nation’s sin and their refusal to turn from worshiping other gods, God allowed them to be conquered by the Babylonians. Jerusalem lay in shambles . . . Solomon’s great temple destroyed . . . its treasure plundered. Most of the people were either dead or taken in captivity back to Babylon. The ones who remained barely eked out an existence among the ruins. The nation that had once been feared because of the God who fought for it was now a laughingstock because that same God had seemingly deserted it. Yet in the midst of all this darkness and despair, the prophet penned these verses:
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3: 19-23
I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve had a very blessed life. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know the salvation message and the fact that God loved me enough to die for me. My family tree is packed full with godly Christian men and women, and I believe my blessed life, in many ways, is a result of their prayers on my behalf. Yet my life hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows, either. Like Jeremiah, I live in a world that is broken and dark because of mankind’s sin and our desire to worship gods of our own making rather than the God who created us. Here are a few of the dark circumstances I’ve had to deal with:
- My father was a pastor and a missionary. He was also bi-polar. Those of you familiar with this disease know how difficult life can be for those who suffer from it, or live with those who do. When I was nineteen, my father took his own life during one of his periods of deep depression. . . . We live in a broken world.
- My mother, who suffered with health issues all her life, died five years ago from cancer—long before we were ready to see her go. She was my rock, my mentor, my earliest example of unconditional love and grace, and I still miss her dearly. . . . We live in a broken world.
- For the past ten years, I’ve watched my beloved mother-in-law slowly slip away from us into the fog of dementia. She passed away last June, but we lost the woman we knew and loved long before that. . . . We live in a broken world.
- My husband and I struggled with infertility for the first nine years of our marriage. Month after month, year after year, we rode the roller coaster of highs and lows as each new dream of a child and family would grow and then die. . . . We live in a broken world.
But difficult as any of these circumstances were to live through, they do not define my life. They’ve shaped me, grown me, in some ways, made me who I am today, but they did not consume me. My life has been one of incredible blessing because of God’s great love and faithfulness. There was never a moment where I had to tackle these circumstances on my own. He was always by my side—bringing hope, peace, strength, comfort, and in some instances, protection. His mercy and grace were new every morning. His loving arms all I needed to make it through the night.
In the third verse of the familiar hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” the author lists just a sprinkling of the daily blessings we enjoy as believers:
“pardon for sin, a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide, strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow . . .”
Day after day, I’ve experienced these blessings, and, like the author of the song, “ten thousand beside.” Because of God’s loving faithfulness, we are all truly blessed.
So, when you see the flax blooming in the ditches and along the roadways this spring, I hope you will remember with me God’s awesome faithfulness and how His mercies are indeed new every morning.