Mercy (unabridged)

How long has it been since you considered the mercy of God?

While the Bible contains many theological essentials, three of its biggest ideas are grace, mercy, and peace—in that order. (There is one exception in Galatians, but we will save that discussion for another letter.)

Grace precedes mercy and mercy precedes peace in Scripture. We know better than to write this sequence off as a coincidence. In fact, I’m not sure God has any coincidences. He describes Himself as more intentional than coincidence accommodates.

Grace has many definitions, most of which are correct, but the sum of them all still renders the heart of God beyond our comprehension. Suffice it to say, at a rudimentary level, grace is God pouring out His heart on us in hopes that we will respond to His invitation for eternal relationship with Him. While we were far from Him, destitute in soul and dead spiritually, irretrievably useless to God and sinful in our nature’s core, Jesus Christ—the personification of God’s heart—made a way for us to connect with God and become His children. This is grace.

As profound as grace is, it has a logical rationale. Even though the work of Christ is monumental, the logic of salvation is evident.

Mercy is closely associated with grace in that it too is an act of God. By definition, mercy presumes deep need in one person and assumes sufficient resources to meet that need by another person. As we consider our woeful failures, our need for comfort, the essential affirmation that we are valuable, as well as the urgent necessities to know we are secure, significant, and loved—not to mention our needs for guidance, reassurance, and wellbeing—we are faced with our need for mercy, our need for God to do something. And He does! He makes ample provision for all of our need.

As pervasive as mercy is, it is fundamentally irrational. While God had to do what He did in Christ in order for us to have relationship, He doesn’t have to provide mercy. But, He does. 

Peace. How the world longs for peace, but we invariably shoot ourselves in the foot and derail the process. How many wars are currently being waged? I couldn’t get a straight answer out of Google, but it is a bunch.

Interestingly enough, while the Bible talks about world peace, it speaks more often about an internal peace that is available to us even in the midst of war, whether that war is on foreign soil or at home in the kitchen. What is also interesting is that this peace follows our Heavenly Father’s mercy.

To summarize, out of His grace God acts mercifully and the result in our lives is peace.

Jeremiah declares that God’s lovingkindness, i.e. His mercies, are new every morning without cessation (Lam. 3:22-23). In mercy, our Father meets our needs and cares for us without compromising His resources in the slightest.

Why does He do this? The logic is that He bound Himself to this pledge of mercy with a covenantal oath. But why did He do that? Mercy can be noted and described, but the logic behind it is mysterious.

I find myself praying for God’s peace. I think the message is clear: If God acts in mercy, which He does, then I have peace. If this is so, the reason I pray for peace can only mean I don’t understand or recognize the peace Father has brought to me.

Peace is not the same as tranquility. Tranquility is the “peace” you hope for when the family gets together at the holidays. Peace is confidence. It is knowing that your Heavenly Father has everything under control. It is recognizing that He will take care of your every need, as He sees fit, and do so without compromise.

Too often we evaluate God’s peace by taking inventory of the stress level we are experiencing and the circumstances surrounding us. It won’t work. His peace is not that petty or shortsighted.

Our Father is working toward and for eternity in our lives, and given this process, He knew we needed an eternal peace right now. So He supplied it. It is an outgrowth of his grace and mercy.

If you are in Christ you are the recipient of God’s grace, and if you have received His grace, you also bask in the absolute, character-driven predictability of His mercy. But as if that were not enough, out of His mercy comes His peace.

Out of God’s rationale for grace comes the irrationality of His abundant mercy. As the recipients of His grace and mercy we are in possession of His peace.

With these understandings, I can rest regardless.