Lenten Devotional by Jodi Beckham
March 8, 2023
Our Lenten journey of God’s Beautiful Way continues with the practice of mercy.
Lord, have mercy! I have prayed it, exclaimed it, sang it. Our Lord is full of mercy. God is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4-5) and God asks us to be merciful, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) I don’t have to ask God to show mercy, God is one step ahead of me and my limited thinking. Yet when we are desperate, we cry out, “Have mercy on me” as the Psalmist does in the fourth Psalm.
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines the Hebrew for mercy from these root words: Racham – showing mercy, compassion or pity. Chesed – meaning kindness, lovingkindness, steadfast love, loyalty. Chanan – meaning pity as in for the poor as well as being gracious, referring to God and His gracious, generous nature. (studylight.org)
I had to search for definitions for mercy because mercy is hard for me to understand.
When I think about my own sinfulness, I want to believe I’m not so bad, right? But when I am honest with myself, it is often the things I don’t do that haunt me.
I remember many years ago driving my then middle school daughter to school. I drove past Forest Lake Elementary. It was a cold December morning right around freezing. I noticed outside the school door was a lump on the sidewalk. As I got closer I realized that lump was a child, who had pulled his limbs into his jacket to keep warm. His bike was beside him as he waited for the school doors to open. It was still dark. Too early for students to be let in.
As I drove past, I was so angered. How did a parent let him leave too early for school! Why didn’t some teacher see him and let him in!
But the most amazing thing happened. I kept on driving. I drove right by and went home to my warm house and a nice hot pot of coffee.
Oh, what helpless sinners we are when we can’t see through our own eyes.
As I sipped my morning coffee it hit me, like a sucker punch to the gut. I just left Jesus sitting on that sidewalk. I drove right by, left Him huddled inside His coat trying to stay warm beside His bike, waiting for the school doors to open. I drove right by!
I did nothing.
God’s loving, generous, compassionate nature reaches out to me even when I feel I don’t deserve it. If only I could remember to show such compassion to others in the moment they happen. I can’t understand God’s mercy. I guess I am too human. Too broken. Sometimes I can’t feel it, or perhaps I choose not to. It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t stop it. It’s there. Waiting for me to accept it. Because when I accept it, I turn to God. Once again. I recognize how much I need God and how dependent I am on God. All that I have, all that I am comes from God, His compassionate, forgiving love for me. And I will gratefully accept it.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.