How did it go today?
Some days are a challenge from start to finish. Others seem monotonous. Yet always, it is the Lord Who brings us safely to the close of each day. It’s easy to forget the Lord’s role, to feel that each day just grinds along on its own, somehow dragging us with it; or that by our own powers we have seized the day and bent it to our will.
In his evening prayer, Martin Luther (I mean, the first Martin Luther, 1483-1546, Bible-based reformer of the church in Germany) wrote, “I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have graciously kept me today.” YOU HAVE GRACIOUSLY KEPT ME TODAY! The Father has compassionately gotten you past the humps and bumps of today. He has helped you deal with the problems of your own making, and also with those of others’ making. He has given you strength to expend all, if need be. He has given you wisdom to solve the difficult issues. He has given you courage to deal with matters into which you had to be dragged. And so on, and on. “Father, thank You for bringing me safely to the end of this day.”
Safely? Some days involve injuries, sicknesses, ailments—all at the worst possible times. Other days involve disputes at work, dissension at school, disagreements at home—yielding damaged emotions and riled nerves. Other days end with hearts heavy from bad decisions, foolish actions, and sins—and the difficult task of picking up the pieces. Safely to the end of the day? Yes.
Your Father keeps you safe, in His love through His Son. You are safe in Jesus’ arms. No matter how difficult the task has been, how stupid the choice was, how hurtful the words were; no matter how unacceptable you have been—not just felt, but been—the Father’s arms of mercy are extended to you in Jesus. Because of Jesus’ atonement for you on the cross, you are not swept away with the dirt of the day. You are lovingly picked up, brushed off, and held safe.
We read in Genesis 28 that Jacob was forced to leave his parental home. He had deceived his father in order to seize the blessing away from his twin brother, Esau. Now Esau planned to kill him. Jacob was not just a foolish teenager anymore, but a full-grown adult. Yet, when Genesis 28 tells us that this adult Jacob found a place to spend the night, setting a stone at his head, no mention is made that Jacob thanked the Lord for sustaining him in the midst of such turmoil!
During the night the Lord gave Jacob a dream of a stairway to heaven. From heaven, the Lord of forgiveness assured Jacob of continued love and protection. He assured Jacob of His will to keep the promise given to his grandfather Abraham, that the Savior from sin would come from this family, in fact from Jacob himself! In the morning, Jacob praised the Lord, named the place Bethel (House of God), and vowed to build an altar there when the Lord brought him safely back!
Must it take a dramatic event to lead you finally to say, “Thank You, Lord and Father”?
At the close of each day say to Him, “Thank You for getting me safely through this day!”
Richard Kanzenbach is pastor of Morning Star Lutheran Church in Fairchild, Wisconsin, Trinity Lutheran Church in Millston, Wisconsin, and Peace with God Evangelical Lutheran Church in Onalaska, Wisconsin