Years ago my eldest son Barry learned the concept of mercy in a profound way. He was in Webelos Scouts so about 9 or 10 years old. Barry and his younger brother were riding their bikes in the street when all of the sudden Patrick started to fall. Barry turned to make sure Patrick was okay and accidentally ran the handlebars of his bike right through the plastic on the rear of my car. It was a pretty nice sized hole. I was there to see it all and Barry’s eyes began to well up with tears. I can’t imagine all the thoughts and emotions running through him at that moment, but at the forefront had to be, “What is Dad going to do to me.” First, we made sure Patrick was okay and then we went and looked at the damage. He probably choked out a hundred sorries as we opened the trunk to see that there was no way to fix the damage. Thankfully it was one of those moments where God’s love was flowing through me well and I hugged Barry and told him it was okay. It was just an accident. In that moment Barry received mercy; he didn’t get what he might have deserved getting. I didn’t holler at him or punish him for his mistake. I just loved him and told him I forgave him and that it was okay. That evening we were having a scout meeting and each boy was supposed to tell a story. Barry stood up and told the story of what had unfolded. I think he even took the boys out to look at the hole in our car. The boys were amazed that he had not gotten into trouble and in his one 9 or 10-year-old way he explained a lesson of love and forgiveness and mercy.
In our ongoing story of Joseph’s family in Genesis 43, his father Jacob throws up a prayer asking that God would be merciful on his sons as they traveled back to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph. Jacob doesn’t even know that what he is asking is that his sons who sold Joseph into slavery would not receive harsh punishment from their brother who was not only still alive, but in power in Egypt. God have mercy. Don’t give those boys what they deserve by human standards or eye for an eye mindsets.
How has mercy played out in your life? Have you offered your Barrys mercy when something happens which could be responded to with harsher consequences? Have you been offered mercy when you didn’t deserve following a mistake you had made? Each of us is a recipient of God’s mercy! He loves us far beyond anything we can earn or deserve. By our sinful natures, we deserve to pay the penalty for the way we harm and hurt and tear down others and ourselves. We deserve punishment for the way we annihilate relationships. And yet from the cross, you and I were offered mercy so that we do not receive that which we deserve. Sure lots more happened on the cross, but for this lesson, just breathe in the breath of mercy and exhale a deep thank you to God!
We are loved, despite ourselves, and that is an amazing gift from God through Jesus Christ!