“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. 36 Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. – Luke 6:32-36
“Lord, have mercy!” This is my three word prayer. So often the situation is so dire, the pain so grave, all I can say is, “Lord, have mercy!” Perhaps others will offer more words and express more fully the needs and concerns that bring this prayer to my mind. But when I cannot fathom the pain or disappointment others have experienced I am reduced to this three word prayer: “Lord, have mercy!”
I hear of a Christian pastor being beheaded in a Muslim country and I cry, “Lord, have mercy!”
I learn the story of a survivor of an abortion who years later was reunited with her birth mom who had given her up for adoption. She was the twin of the sister whose life was taken. When reunited they wept in each others’ arms and I cry, “Lord, have mercy!”
I read about a group of Christians who are chased from their homes and must watch their daughters being abused, and I pray, “Lord, have mercy!”
Grace is God’s undeserved kindness, love, and gift of life and salvation for the sake of Christ. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Mercy is not getting the punishment we do deserve. Mercy is relenting and withdrawing punishment.
But there is another facet to mercy that I love. It has to do with God’s heart of kindness and compassion toward us in response to our pain. So when I awake in the middle of the night, and I cannot sleep, I cry, “Lord, have mercy!”
When my hip or knee is causing pain, I cry, “Lord, have mercy!”
When I see a friend who is suffering, or learn of an injustice that touches my heart, I cry, “Lord, have mercy!”
God has had mercy on us. His heart is moved toward us in kindness and love. He sees our suffering. And just as he heard the cries of the children of Israel when they were slaves in Egypt, he hears our call now. Jesus is the perfect embodiment of that.
I want to reflect that kindness of heart toward others and give tender love and care to any who need it. That is, after all, Jesus’ calling for us.