Are you exhausted by this challenging season? International pandemic. Racial inequalities. Economic uncertainties. Political discord. Wildfires. Hurricanes. Lost summer. Back to school. Physical distancing. Masks.
“Lord, have mercy” is my latest breath prayer. And I’m praying it continuously throughout the day. It’s my heart cry. My longing. My earnest desire. Mercy amidst the chaos and confusion. Mercy accompanied by grace. Mercy laced with love. Mercy from the heart of a loving God toward all he has created. Yes, mercy given to me (and to you!) is pure gift.
Mercy is one of my favorite words. It’s beautiful to say the word, even more glorious to hear and see and receive. It makes me want to sing, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, new every morning, great is thy faithfulness O Lord, great is thy faithfulness.”
Mercy means “compassionate or kindly forbearance” shown toward an offender, an enemy; it means compassion, pity or benevolence. It’s synonym is forgiveness. It’s a strong word for mighty people showing kindness, favor, compassion or faithfulness; to bend or stoop in kindness toward another. It begins with God, fulfilled in God’s people. That’s mighty! Wow. Where do we see this evidenced today?
God shows his tender mercy toward us all the time. We are evidence of his mercy. Were it not for God’s mercy we would be lost, forgotten, forlorn, and doomed to our own futility. But God, in Jesus and in his mercy is faithful, loving, kind and full of grace — even when we are not worthy. His mercy saves us. Empowers us. Lifts us up and gives us hope.
All of us want to receive it, but are we willing to be a vessel of mercy to others? Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” Matt. 5:7 and “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” Luke 6: 36. “For I was hungry, and you fed me; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you invited me into your home; I was naked and you gave me clothing; I was sick and you cared for me; I was in prison and you visited me…whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me” Matt. 25: 34-36.
Mercy is the commodity most needed today — and most missing today. I don’t see much mercy on the daily news. I don’t hear much mercy on the streets of our cities. I don’t notice it when I see pettiness of heart or smallness of mind. But, I do hear it when I listen to voices of compassion for the lost, the least, and the left behind. I see it when I notice life change because of unmerited kindness, patience, grace and forgiveness. Yes, mercy is all around us if we look in the right places.
Hannah Hurnard once said, “Blessed are the merciful, the tender and compassionate in judgment, who will not criticize but discern with the eye of love where help, and perhaps warning, is needed.”
Charles Spurgeon adds, “God’s mercy is so great that it forgives great sins to great sinners after great lengths of time and then gives great favors and great privileges and raises us up to great enjoyments in the great heaven of the great God.”
Imagine what our lives or our churches or our culture would look like if mercy were our priority. Yes, imagine with me what our hearts and souls would look like if mercy reigned supreme in the very place where God seeks to solely reside.
As you endure this season of life, let me encourage you not to lose heart by the conditions and situations of this time in history. Instead, let me urge you to be a living example of God’s mercy in every situation, every conversation, every relationship, and every decision that’s before you. To choose otherwise may in fact contribute to the ills of our day rather than the hope we are called to offer.
To love mercy and the God who made it so — may that be the hallmark of our lives.