New Year, New Mercies.

by Christine Sine
photo by Keren Dibbens -Wyatt

photo from

by Keren Dibbens-Wyatt

New Year is a difficult time for those of us who are stuck in difficult or wearing circumstances. The idea of change is everywhere, as though a gym membership or a makeover were going to revitalise a stale marriage, or make caring for a cantankerous elderly relative any easier. A new lipstick is not going to heal me of my chronic illness, for example, nor a diet help my husband suffer its restrictions any better.

The idea that we need to improve in our own power is a misleading one, and this is probably why so many resolutions are left unresolved, as fragrant as what’s left of the turkey. What is the point of a new year then? Does it have any spiritual significance for us in Christmastide? Or is it just another false promise, like the commercialism that threatens to overwhelm everything?

The key, for me anyway, is found tucked away in the book of Lamentations, where Jeremiah, like the Psalmist, is totally honest about the miseries we all have to suffer, but whose bright hope shines out all the stronger for it:

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)

God’s mercies are new or fresh, every day. How do we allow fresh mercies each day to be extended to those who gnaw away at our peace of mind or our precious health? To the depressed spouse, the frustrated carer, the old person who rarely recognises us and sometimes bites – each of whom we love dearly and want to give God’s mercies to, but without holding a cumulative sheet of wrongs in our heart, particularly for those things that hurt us daily and happen over and over again, with no acknowledgment, no request for forgiveness. How do we forgive those with no cognisance of their transgression, and no desire to say sorry?

We have the right to protect our own worn out hearts and bodies of course, but in these long periods of unceasing care or of loving the difficult, how do we forgive ourselves for wanting to give up, leave or throw up our hands in despair? For those dark thoughts that come unbidden – maybe he’ll leave, I wish she’d die – for these, mercy is the answer, and mercies, it turns out, can be new moment by moment and they must come from God and be constantly and consistently renewed.

We need to recognise our own blaming mechanisms and our need for forgiveness before the Lord, and let his resulting mercy and grace flow out to us and then on to those we are blaming, to those we must continue to love even when often all we want to do is run away and sob in a cupboard (as we might well need to allow ourselves space to do now and again!).

Mercy comes in waves and it can roll on through and over us to be extended to others. We cannot do it ourselves, we can only begin it by acknowledging our own need for forgiveness and asking God to be the source and the process of new mercies.

The slates need to be washed clean each day, maybe every hour, and the eyes to be freshened also. We don’t make excuses for others (and this is especially the case with abuse, which I am not talking about here, that requires a different response), we don’t pretend the reality is different than it is, we do everything we can to make things as calm and easy for all parties as they can be. But we also recognise how hard it all is without self-pity, asking for all the help we can, and in particular asking God to help us see with his eyes, love with his heart and forgive with his mercy.

A Prayer

Lord, let us never say in our hearts to anyone, “You took the best years of my life!” But let us give our time, love and energy as a living sacrifice, offered not just to those around us, but to you, our loving Father. Let us never try to fool ourselves either, and say to anyone, “You were the best years of my life!” whilst inside carrying grudges. But let us rather ask for your help daily and say, “I give and gave you my time willingly, and with love.” Let us expect nothing in return, except the hope of one day hearing those precious words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” Not so much to our earthly ears, but the highest honour heaven can bestow. Amen.

©Keren Dibbens-Wyatt 2016

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Cynthia Sinclair January 9, 2016 - 6:37 am

Lovely and encouraging, Keren

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt January 10, 2016 - 4:57 am

Thank you, Cynthia x

Laurie Klein, Scribe January 9, 2016 - 9:10 am

Keren, yes, to “give our time willingly, and with love”—to God, and to others. Thanks for this compassionate exhortation and reminder of new mercies, moment by moment.

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt January 10, 2016 - 4:55 am

Thanks for stopping by to read and leave your thoughts, Laurie.

Joy Lenton January 9, 2016 - 11:04 am

To all these things and through all of life’s dark seams ” mercy is the answer, and mercies, it turns out, can be new moment by moment and they must come from God and be constantly and consistently renewed.” Amen! Thank God for His mercy new every morning, and thank you for your honest, inspiring and encouraging words, Keren. May you always be sustained by daily mercy and grace. Xx

Keren Dibbens-Wyatt January 10, 2016 - 4:53 am

Thank you, Joy. We all live by daily mercies, don’t we? x

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