For the next week or so I’m contemplating mercy. A simple definition of mercy according to my Google search is, “Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm, "the boy was begging for mercy.” An event to be grateful for, because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.”
I started to look at some verses from the Bible on mercy and the first verses I came across are in Exodus 25. In this chapter God gives the Israelites the guidelines for making the "mercy seat." God commands the Israelites to basically make a box and the box top is the mercy seat. On top of the box he tells them to put two cherubs turned toward the mercy seat. So they are in effect "watching" it (Exodus 25:19-20).
So whats inside the box? Inside the box God tells the Israelites to put the "testimony" He is going to give them. Then He tells them to cover the box with the mercy seat (Ex 25:20-22). So what do they do with the mercy seat? They cover the mercy seat with sacrifices. God tells the priests to “take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat.” Leviticus 16:13-15
At this place God says, “here I will meet with you”(Ex 25:22).
God paints for us a picture of mercy and its this: mercy is sacrifice covering the story of God in your life so that others can see it.
Its during these times that God meets us and believe me we need it. The truth is mercy is not easy, it often requires sacrifice. The ultimate sacrifice is physical death - to die for another when they don’t deserve it. But there are other sacrifices that cause us to die to “ourselves” so to speak and I’m in that situation now.
As I watch my husband struggle with depression he often doesn’t have the energy to meet my needs. I see a world of God’s beauty and grace but He often can’t see it. I must keep my focus on Christ so I wont get pulled down to the place he is at and its not easy. Harsh words come easily with requests for forgiveness. Do I forgive or do I make him pay? Its my choice to be forgiving, to extend mercy, and my friends over time sometimes this hurts. Sometimes I'm merciful, and sometimes the best thing I can do is just keep my mouth shut and pray. I’m still learning how to be merciful and believe me I am no Mother Teresa!
Thus, mercy usually involves sacrifice which means it often hurts. It means giving up your rights, continually looking for the best in another, seeking Gods strength... Fortunately, its during these times that God will meet you. He is meeting me and He has met countless others before me. When our testimony or “life story” is covered in mercy others will see it. What they will do with it, I don’t know, but I do know this: it pleases God, it makes us more like God, and ultimately it draws us closer to God.
May the Lord have mercy on us all!