The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
These days, it seems like our need for mercy has grown. Many of us are more in touch with our need for God’s mercy than ever before. Interesting how a crisis brings out that aspect of our faith, isn’t it? But do we really have a new need for mercy? Or are we just more aware of our need of God’s mercy?
One of the core Christian doctrines is the providence of God. God’s providence is his ordering of things, his orchestration of circumstances. God is actively engaged in our world all the time. And so much of what we think we do for ourselves really is a gift of God. In fact, it goes deeper than that.
In the last fifty years, an idea has worked its way into our sense of who God is and how he acts. It’s the idea that God created the world, set it in motion according to various laws of physics and biology, etc., and then left it alone to govern itself. God doesn’t interfere with our world. This is called “deism.”
Of course, no Christian would say that this is true because the Bible records all kinds of miracles. More than that, we’ve seen God acting in our own lives. Of course God is involved in the world. But we may be more “deistic” than we realize. What do I mean?
Even Christians, when they think about God’s action in the world, gravitate toward the big and unusual works of God. Or instead, they think of certain times in their lives where they see God arrange things for their benefit or to answer their prayers. And that’s usually where they stop. But really, this is a kind of compromise between deism and the biblical view.
You see, it’s not just that God intervenes in the world on occasion, or even regularly in order to answer prayers or provide for his people. God is actively sustaining the world even as we speak. If he were to remove his willful upholding of creation, even for a second, it would disappear in the blink of an eye.
God’s active presence is all around us. That’s why Paul can say, “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). It takes God’s continuing presence and effort for us to exist. It’s in this context that the Bible presents God’s steadfast love and mercy.
It’s a bit frightening to know how thoroughly out of your hands you life really is. But it’s actually always been that way. And in fact, there’s no reason to fear. For “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.”
So you can count on him as you always have, only now even more so. For if you are more dependent than you ever realized, your God is more faithful than you ever knew.
Father, sustain us and bring us new mercies this morning. Grant us peace and comfort to know that you are active all around us all the time. Grant us assurances of your love. We need you as we always have. We love you.
In Christ’s name,