“Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness.” — Lamentations 3:22-23 (NKJV)
“Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'” — Luke 9:23
God’s mercy is new every morning. God calls us to take up our cross daily. Do those concepts seem somehow at odds?
Jeremiah, lamenting over the destruction of his beloved Jerusalem, comforted himself in the fact that some of God’s people had survived, even if their capital city and its temple had not. Jesus, going resolutely to his death, warned his followers that they would have to take up their own crosses.
In context, then, both Jeremiah’s word of praise and Jesus’ word of warning have to do with death and destruction. Jerusalem’s destruction took place as an act of divine judgment that culminated centuries of prophetic warnings about Jerusalem’s sin. As Jeremiah had already prophesied, God in his grace restored his people, his holy city, and his temple seventy years later.
Jesus died for our sins–both in the sense that he bore the penalty and paid the price and that his judicial murder resulted from sins no different than the ones each of us commits. Then, three days later, Jesus rose from death. All who believes in him have the right to be adopted as God sons.
The two scriptures above, therefore, provide two more illustrations of the general pattern that judgment always leads to grace. The daily opportunity to take up the cross to crucify the flesh is a daily mercy, uniting judgment and grace in one divine gift.