New Mercies

Mercy is there. New every morning. Just look.

Sometimes I prefer the King James Version, especially for these verses. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “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.”

Thanksgiving will be different this year. A January 2022 idea to expand our sunporch and to add a screened porch materialized, but not until October (it is now November)! Construction is moving forward, albeit very slowly. Although timing has seen delays – there is still mercy. NOTHING will be finished by Thanksgiving Day, but my family will gather together nevertheless (with not completely ideal accommodations). Yet we remember the “not so ideal” also happening during the height of Covid-19 when we served soup and ham biscuits in our garage with the doors open on a cold day. Mercy.

Thanksgiving will be remembered differently this year… By God’s grace, my husband and I were home on September 20th when an upstairs water pipe burst and sent water flowing down through the dining room ceiling. Thankfully, we had the ability to hear the rushing water and to mitigate the flow by turning off the main valve, placing buckets, mopping with towels, etc. What interesting timing! We thought we were prepping for the planned renovations to the house, but now we were prepping for the unplanned restoration and repair of the damage to the interior of the house. By some weird timing, the sunporch/screened porch construction project started on October 10th and has since completely overlapped with the water damage repair. Well, if there has to be a major disruption in our lives, best to do it all at once? And, at Thanksgiving time?

Meanwhile, I took a trip to the Outer Banks with some girlfriends right around the time that Hurricane Ian brought winds and rains and flooding and more leaks to the rental house. Dialoguing with the owner felt a lot like our conversations back home with our restoration contractor. And PTSD. Perhaps our being at the rental was a mercy for the owner. Suppose no one had been there? More buckets and mopping, a familiar scenario, but also less damage. Mercy.

A cascade of health issues put another layer of disruption upon everything. Covid finally caught up to my husband and me. This caused a two-week convalescence. Immediately, friends and family brought us food which was so timely, before we even realized how much we were going to need it. Mercy. I also wrestled with a kidney stone issue during this time. But, a last minute cancelation allowed me to get in to see a urologist very quickly. Mercy.

I am grateful for God’s mercies, great and small. On the first “good day” post-Covid, I went on a short road trip with my husband to get the traditional country ham. We figured we had enough energy to accomplish this task and we did. It actually felt good to be in a car and out in the world! Mercy! Our expanding family is fast becoming more focused on the country ham than the traditional turkey, and by God’s grace, we will be together this Thanksgiving to enjoy it. Counting down to ham!

But, the whole point is gathering, not really the ham. Thanksgiving will really be a time of thanksgiving for us. What didn’t kill us made us stronger (you’ve heard that before). We have experienced many mercies and have not had to look too hard to find them. The demolition of the water soaked walls actually gave us a better look at other items that needed fixing. Outdoors we discovered a gas leak that needed to be repaired. A few crawl space issues were discovered as well. Sure I’d like a completed living space, a lot less upheaval in my life, a pain free existence. But, we are not consumed. Mercy!

The biggest of God’s compassions is my husband! He is an exacting site supervisor with a keen knowledge of building and landscaping. He has been actively involved in all the house projects on an hourly basis – overseeing every single contractor and orchestrating every logistic. He himself has even taken up the hammer, the shovel, and other tools as part of the construction crew. Not sure he is totally accepted as a peer contractor, but he is definitely a master of quality control. Yes, he is tied to the site, sometimes likened to a prison, while I have been free to continue my activities without much limitation. This is mercy on steroids. And, I am grateful.

What we’ll remember about this Thanksgiving is the endurance, the perseverance, the love of family, the determination to gather and eat a great meal no matter what, and to watch a project unfold from its center rather than its end. We are not consumed. God’s mercies are clearly seen. I am thankful that God pulled back the veil for me particularly, so I could see this merciful flow.

Psalm 13:5 (KJV) says, “But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.” I am not consumed. God’s compassions do not fail. Great is His faithfulness.

A Certain Kind of Joy

Photo Credit: Kim Clayton Lance

There is a certain kind of joy that can occur when we endure an impossibly hard season. Be it a pandemic, a terminal diagnosis, a death, shattered bones, infertility, betrayal by a spouse or friend or colleague, loss of employment, or persecution because of our faith, we can still experience the unique! Joy. If we know Jesus as Lord, in particular.

I’m not talking about happiness. This joy is more about confidence. It is more about hope being fixed on what is unseen, what is coming, what is promised. It is more about security in eternal terms. No way will we be happy about what we are enduring in the now. But we can be happy that God is lovingly showing us whether or not our faith is genuine. Fire turned up on high. Dross burned off. Hindrances vaporized. What’s left? Strong faith.

There is JOY IN THE SHOWING. I Peter 1:6-7 (NASB) says, “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” This proof reveals lives miraculously transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. This evidence lets us know where truth faith is bubbling up.

There is JOY IN THE SEEING. God already knows the status of our faith. Weak or strong, marginal or steadfast. He already knows. The testing happens so that we can know it ourselves or that others can see the real live picture of Christ’s character in us. God sometimes uses the disastrous to thread perseverance through our lives. To make us dependent on Him. To make meaningful our wrestling. To prevent us from abandoning hope. To make us like Him.

Too, I have noticed that in Christ, one kind of suffering prepares us for the next season of suffering. When I replay God’s faithfulness and provision in the former seasons of my life, even if waiting on Him seemed endless (and it always does), I know His strength for the next season is accessible. This is a repeated revelation for me but, in one faith experiment I learned that I had a self-sufficiency problem. This was when I broke my upper right arm (after a trip and fall in CW). And yes, I am right-handed. I clearly saw the dross God wanted to remove. The testing of my faith was not wasted on that painful healing process! God exposed my dependence on myself and it definitely needed to be taken down a few notches.

There is JOY IN THE KNOWING. Settle assurance. I can make sense of my pain when my faith is being purified by my suffering. God allows it and God uses it. Like childbirth, I can even call pain productive. But, only if the process forces me to focus on the age to come instead of the temporal “sparks flying upward” (Job 5:7) life here on planet earth. I must see the unseen to be weaned away from obsession with the earthly. My heart must be lifted to unseen glories. Kate Warren defines joy this way: “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be all right, and the determined choice to praise God in all things.” Unseen glories. Still learning this lesson…

Romans 5:3-5 (NASB) says, “And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God have been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”

In this, there is a certain kind of joy.