A Cry For Mercy

October 18, 2017

Psalm 142:1 – I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. (NIV)

Several years ago, I received the following anecdote from a clergyman and saved it:

    There is a monastery whose members gather around a new candidate and ask, "Why do you want to join?" Candidates may say things like "I am seeking peace", or "I am looking for meaning in life", or "I am lost". The members know that the only correct response is, "I seek mercy." That's because at the heart of every person is the struggle with blindness. Candidates come to embark on a journey to discover the meaning of mercy. And that is what transforms the heart into the Lord's own image.

At the time, I saw little connection between mercy and blindness. Nevertheless, it got me wondering: Do I struggle with blindness? Am I blind to my need for mercy? Have I truly discovered its meaning?

The psalmists certainly understood mercy. They felt the need intensely and expressed it through poetry: "Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord", or "Have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long", or "Turn to me and have mercy on me" (Psalm 40:11a; 86:3; 119:132a NIV). The prophet Habakkuk was not blind to his nation's critical need for divine mercy. That's why he pleaded with God, "In wrath remember mercy" (Habakkuk 3:2b NIV). The prophets were bold in their pleas for mercy. Why? Because they knew with certainty that God would respond out of sheer faithfulness to His covenant promise.

Centuries later, two blind men sitting by a roadside clearly saw their need for mercy. As Jesus approached, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!" (Matthew 20:30b NIV) Such piercing cries for mercy pulsate across the pages of Scripture.

As for you and me, surely, we struggle with blindness if we cannot see a reason to cry for mercy; we cannot see our sinful condition, that we are "wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17b NIV). Perhaps we are blinded by life's abundance or a sense of righteousness. We cannot even see how blind we are to our utter dependence on God and that every provision is a gift of His undeserved mercy: for our preservation, survival, forgiveness, wellness, honour, and offspring. We also take salvation for granted, not seeing it as a continuous cascade of mercy, every breath of His Spirit, in this life and the next. This salvation is offered to all whose eyes are opened to their sinful condition and who cry out for God's merciful grace.

Ephesians 2:4-5 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV)

Biblical characters saw every provision in life, whether temporal or eternal, as a gift of mercy. Shouldn't we too?

Prayer: Lord, help us to see our complete dependence on Your mercy. May that motivate us to "approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). Amen.

About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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