There is a humerous, sort of, prayer that goes “Dear Lord, so far today, I am doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or overindulgent. However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that. Amen.” It points out the all too obvious fact that we are going to sin and the truth expressed by John in his first letter, chapter 1:8, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
It also deals with the reality of Paul’s lament in Romans 7:15-20 “15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.”
We have to face the reality that unlike our Lord and Saviour, we succumb to sin, even after we are saved and strive for righteousness, we will sin. But that is is not the whole story. God is not surprised by this. He knows this about us. J.I. Packer in his seminal book Knowing God said on page 42, “There is tremendous relief in knowing that his [God’s] love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me.”
This is something the prophet Jeremiah understood very well. In the Book of Lamentations, the prophet goes on for five chapters describing in the starkest language the judgement of God on the nation of Judah that leads to the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian exile. However, in the midst of that cacophony of punishment at the hand of God he says the following in 3:21-24: “21This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. 22The LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. 23They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I have hope in Him.”
So despite our failures and no matter how bad everything gets around us, we, like Jeremiah, have hope. Remember this and never, no never give up hope for His mercies are new every morning. We start every day with the mercy of God our Father being poured out upon us and in that we have hope. Amen.