Understanding the Need for Coffee and God's Mercy
You all know by now that my need for coffee is unparalleled. I need it in the morning to give me that jolt to get started. I desire it midday because it just tastes so darn good. I covet it at 2:00 pm because my friend got me in the habit of drinking it at that time to take us through to the end of the school day, and a hotly pursue a hot cup at night to satisfy me and begin to settle me down for the night. I LOVE coffee. If I summarized this addiction, I could say I require coffee for energy, comfort, out of habit, satisfaction, and fulfilment.
But I have realized very recently, that what I really want more than that murky, strong, delightful cup of coffee is God’s mercy.
I have always known that I need God and his great grace, but it has become more apparent to me how essential His mercy is for me. As a Christian, I believe we go through stages of “Christianhood”. At first, we are on fire for God, yet don’t really understand what that looks like. Then, we can become overwhelmed by knowing God. This helps us move forward in our walk because we feel so grateful for all He has done for us. Or, we can be so mottled down with wanting to serve Him that we start to take a step back because we have now committed ourselves to so much serving that we don’t have time for anything else. We can fall away from being in God’s presence at several times in our walk. We can draw very close to Him in difficult times or times of learning. We can know Him closely when we need forgiveness or when we are looking for His grace. We can be very distant when we feel angry at Him because a loved one passed away or we lost a job. No matter what stage of Christ-following we are in, we always, always will need His mercy. And He will, always, always be there to extend it to us.
The Oxford dictionary defines mercy as, compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. Mercy is a compassionate behavior on the part of the one who has power. Well, if that doesn’t describe our God, I don’t know what does. He has all the power yet is compassionate at all times even when we don't deserve it. If we break it down a little bit more it means, soft-heartedness, leniency, sympathy, and tolerance. Again, this is God at His truest.
At the stage of Christianity that I feel I am in, I need God’s mercy more than ever. It is something I ask of Him to demonstrate to me many times during the day. I request often because I am even more aware of the fact that I am a sinner than I ever was before. Oh, what a sinner I am. And, because I am at this stage in my walk, I want to show mercy to others, which then makes me more aware of my need for God’s mercy and my desire to know and visualize it better.
So, what does mercy appear as for us humans walking out our everyday lives? There are three Bible verses that explain what God’s mercy looks like and, to me anyway, makes it clear why we should seek it out on a minute-by-minute basis.
Psalm 103: 8 says, “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.” Jeremiah 3:12 shares, “…I will not look on you with anger, for I am unfailing in my love. This is the LORD’s declaration. I will not be angry forever.” Joel 2:13 states, “For he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in faithful love, and he relents from sending disaster.” What’s the common denominator? SLOW TO ANGER!!! If this is not resonating with you right now, you must be a saint. We humans are such sinners and we know that by God’s grace we are saved from this sin through His Son Jesus Christ. We don’t ever have to worry about our salvation through this grace. But we continue to sin and continue to repeat the awful things God saved us from. This is our nature. This is our humanness. This is why I am forever thankful for God’s mercy over, and over, and over again.
The verses stated above shout to us about God’s mercy. They express to us that even though we continue, God will not anger. His anger is slow. He will not look on us with anger. He will continue to be gracious and compassionate throughout our continued sinfulness. You see, as the definition states, He does have the right to punish or harm us. He is God. He is the Creator of all things. Of course, He has the right. But God selects the compassionate behavior rather than the punishing behavior because He loves us so much. He says He will show mercy to our sins and remember them no more. (Hebrews 8:12). He doesn’t want to remember them. He wants to forgive. That is who He is. That is what He does. This is why I need Him so much every day, because this is not who I am.
When we receive love, kindness, and/or compassion from another person, it is usually something we take note of. How often do you recall a time you saw compassion happen and couldn’t wait to tell someone else? It happens at the grocery store often with people helping other people with money when they are short. I have seen it on the roadside helping with a flat tire, at work when someone sits down next to you to give you technology support, and on tv when “heroes” are highlighted on the news station. Compassion takes place in a lot of places, but in my opinion, it doesn’t happen enough and certainly not like God so willingly shares.
Reflect on the times just in your work place when you became angry so quickly because of something someone said, or usually, something someone told you someone said. At any time did you stop to consider what really might have been said or whether the other person was dealing with something else in their life that caused them to be short? Or did you just get angry? When this happens, we become so quick to start rumor, run to others to complain, call someone to tell them how awful another person is being. We, then, begin to hurt others simply because we cannot stop for one minute to be slow to anger. To show mercy.
Where is the mercy we extend to others when our God is so incredibly merciful? Where is the mercy for our children when, during the morning routine, they stop to tell us that something else is supposed to occur yet we are in a rush and begin to yell? Where is the mercy to our spouse when they call and announce they will be late for the third night in a row because they have another event at school they are being required to attend? How about the mercy for our Pastor when he speaks to us about how we are to act in love toward ALL people, not just Christians? Here is another one…. How about when our neighbor has a party and we are trying to sleep? They have never done it before, it’s a celebration for something you are unaware of, yet you make a fuss and call the cops? I remember kicking my son’s homework down the hall because it was still in his backpack a week after he was supposed to turn it in. Never once did I think that no one had ever taught him what it looks like to turn it in, only just said, “turn it in” yet he had no idea where to put it, so rather than ask, just left it in his backpack. No mercy there and that was 20 years ago and I still remember doing it.
God showed me mercy when I snapped at my husband because I wanted something and he said, "no". My God has provided mercy to me when I said I was going to write my blog yet chose to shop instead, which then put my family in a bind because I needed another day to write. My God expelled mercy when we had no money because we were frivolous, yet now needed money to pay an unexpected bill. This amazing God does not want to punish us, or cause us strife, or blow up in anger. His only desire is for us to repent and turn back to Him. He will continually forgive our sins and delay all punishment because He is a God Who loves us so very much.
His mercy is never ending. His love will never leave us or forget us. What He will forget, though, is the sin if we choose to go to Him for forgiveness. He desires us to then begin to put effort into changing these ways so that our lives have joy and hope. He is merciful so that we can live full lives of joy and hope which will never come if we don’t accept His mercy and pass it on as well.
Where else in this difficult, beautiful, disastrous, glorious world can you find mercy such as God’s. There is nowhere. You can try to find it. You can begin to create it. But, you will always discover it in Christ.
Take up your mug, now. Look at your day up until now. Repent of your sin and ask for God’s mercy, and begin to see His mercy in all things and share it with others around you. You will begin to see your need for mercy just as I see the importance of coffee. And, just as I share coffee, will begin to share mercy with those around you.