January 1.
The Tenderness and Compassion of General Robert E. Lee

Isaiah 53:5

Captain Robert E. Lee, son of General Robert E. Lee wrote about the compassion and tenderness of his father in a letter the general sent to his nephew Fitzhugh's wife after Fitzhugh was wounded near Culpepper, Virginia.

I am so grieved, my dear daughter, to send Fitzhugh to you wounded. But I am so grateful that his wound is of a character to give us full hope of a speedy recovery. With his youth and strength to aid him, and your tender care to nurse him, I trust he will soon be well again. I know that you will unite with me in thanks to Almighty God, who has so often sheltered him in the hour of danger, for his recent deliverance, and lift up your whole heart in praise to Him for sparing a life so dear to us, while enabling him to do his duty in the station in which He had placed him. Ask him to join us in supplication that He may always cover him with the shadow of His almighty arm, and teach him that his only refuge is in Him, the greatness of whose mercy reacheth unto the heavens, and His truth unto the clouds. As some good is always mixed with the evil in this world, you will now have him with you for a time and I shall look to you to cure him soon and send him back to me...

While we can see the tenderness of Lee through this letter, we also sense his awareness of God's mercy in bringing deliverance to his own nephew. Lee's faith in God was strong. He knew that Fitzhugh would soon be healed, and he expected him to return to the battlefield, believing that the same God who protected and delivered him the first time could do it again.

Lee believed that his nephew's wounds would teach him a greater dependence on God. Christians sometimes get wounded in the Lord's service. We can either let our wounds destroy us or become a means to draw us closer to Christ.

Are you wounded? Try letting the Lord "nurse" your wounds.

January 2.
The Goodness of God

John 20:13, 16

Mary Bethell was a godly woman who lived in difficult circumstances spawned by the Civil War, yet she still rejoiced in God's blessings. She reflected on the past two years in her diary saying:

January 1, 1861. Ground white with snow. This is new years day, the old year is gone forever with all its sorrows and joys. When I look back to the events of last year, I am led to say that the Lord has been good to me. I had more of joy last year than sorrow, my family was blessed with health, and I had no serious trouble (except when my husband went to Memphis, and Emeline and Dick died last year, and Cinda's twin babies).

January 1, 1862. I am entering upon another new year, I am determined and resolved to live nearer to God, to deny myself, take up my cross and follow the Savior. I hope that I may be built up this year in the most holy faith that I may advance in the divine life.

Often in our difficulties, we fail to see God's goodness. Like Mary who stood outside the garden tomb weeping, tears blur our vision of a risen Christ. If we will think over the past year we can rejoice like Mary Bethell who found God's blessings in spite of life's unexpected calamities. We are reminded in Psalm 30:5 that "weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." When Mary Magdalene stopped weeping and refocused her eyes, she saw the risen Christ right in front of her. Sometimes tears blur our vision. But if we look through the eyes of faith, we will find that Jesus is there all the time.

January 3.
God's Mercies Are New Every Morning

Lamentations 3:22-24

During 1864 Southern lady Emma LeConte felt hopeless and despairing as she walked through a valley of trials. But she soon realized that "the darkest hour comes before dawn." With the beginning of a new year, Emma was ready to move on and put the past behind her as she wrote in her journal:

Jan. 1, 1865. What a bright new year! If only the sunshine be a presage of happier days! Cold but clear and sunnysuch a contrast to yesterday's tears. With this bright sun shining on me I can't feel as mournful as I did yesterday. I will try to throw off the sad memories I was brooding over and hope for better things. I will try to forget my struggles and failures and disappointments and begin again with new resolutions.

For Emma LeConte the previous year had been one of seeming hopelessness. Yet with the dawning of a new day in Christ comes a fresh start and a new hope. The writer of Lamentations was the prophet Jeremiah, who is called by biblical expositors, "the weeping prophet." Jeremiah faced the overwhelming task of preaching to a sinful nation that would not turn back to God. Yet the Holy Spirit reminded the prophet that God's mercies are fresh and new every morning and he will be faithful to his promises.

We can endure problems with the knowledge that our Lord will give new mercies every morning.