Tuesday, November 8, 2016, 8:18 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “His Tender Mercies.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 143 (Select vv. ESV).
In Your Faithfulness (vv. 1-4)
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
When we think of the word “mercy,” what comes to mind? I am most certain we think of compassion, kindness, sympathy, and forgiveness. We want God to come to our rescue, and to deliver us from our troubles, and to take away the pain and suffering from our lives. So, how do we feel when we pray for mercy, but our situations remain the same or even get worse? Do we feel God is not listening, or that he is not answering our requests? Or, that he is not sympathetic to our cause? Or, are there other ways in which God can show us his mercy other than via removing our trials and tribulations?
Why do we even have trials and tribulations? Why are we tempted to sin? Why does God allow our enemy, Satan, to attack us? Why does he allow sickness, pain, sorrow, tragedies, war, etc., where people suffer harm, and are even killed? I know these are age old questions, and they don’t have easy answers, but let me share with you some thoughts on this subject.
We are tempted to sin, for instance, because we were born with sin natures, which goes back to the sin of Adam and God’s curse on the earth and on the human race. But, it even goes back before that, for God created Lucifer, an angel in heaven, who then decided he wanted to be God, and so he rebelled against God, was cast out of heaven, and he took a third of the angels with him in rebellion against God. He then became Satan (the devil), and the angels who rebelled with him became evil spirits.
Yet, God did not destroy him/them, but he allowed them to live and to tempt man, and for man to sin against God. In fact, God gave man the choice to obey him or to disobey him when he told him he could not eat of a certain tree. Since God is all knowing, he even knew this was going to happen before he created the angels in heaven, and before he created man. And, yet he still created them, and he allowed them to live after they rebelled against him, but he then put a curse on the snake/devil, man, woman and the earth. So, why did God allow all this to happen the way it did? Why didn’t he just wipe them from the face of the earth and start all over?
I believe, from what I know of God, and from the study of his Word, that God allowed all of this to take place the way it did, because he wants humans to follow and obey him, not because we are programmed to do so, as though we are robots or puppets on a string, but because we choose to follow Jesus, to love him and to serve him, out of hearts that long after him. He allows trials and tribulations in our lives for the same reason, which is to draw us closer to our Lord, so that we learn to rely on God and not on ourselves, so that we are taught perseverance in faith, and so we share in Christ’s/God’s holiness, among other reasons, as well.
So, if God is calling out to us to follow him and to obey him, but we are not listening, because life is going well for us, and we’re having a good time here on the earth living for self-pleasure, then how might his mercy (kindness) be shown to us at that time? Is it kind to discipline a child? Is it kind to tell people the truth? It can be, if done correctly, with the right heart. So, he might discipline us in order to help us get our priorities in the right order. If God wants to spread his gospel message to a world dying in their sin, but the church is complacent and they are not taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, might God show his mercy both to the lost and to the church by exercising some divine discipline on the church in order to revive her and to get her to be more serious about her calling and commitment to Christ? I believe the answer is “Yes.” And, didn’t God show mercy to us by allowing his Son to suffer greatly so that we could be saved? YES!
So, God may show his mercy to us, and to others whose lives we may touch for Jesus, by allowing us to go through difficulties in order to purify us, to mature us in our faith, to strengthen us, to teach us to rely on him and not on ourselves, to draw us closer to him, and so we share in his holiness.
My Soul Thirsts (vv. 5-6)
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
When the enemy of our souls fiercely attacks us, or when we go through suffering, trials, tribulations, and the like, it has a way of getting us on our knees before God in humility, in repentance, and in prayer, seeking God’s counsel and his help. When things are going well for us, we can get too comfortable living here on this earth, and we may not have the attitude of heart and mind that we are truly strangers on this earth, and this world is not our home, but we are just passing through on our way to heaven.
When we go through difficulties, it helps us to get our eyes focused on Jesus, and on why we are here, and on what he has for us to be and to do for his glory and for his kingdom. Through our times of difficulty God may move us to be more dedicated to him and to spreading the message of salvation to a lost world, so in that way, he is showing the lost his mercy, too. So, when we pray for mercy, know that God will always do what is best for you (for me), but it may not be comfortable. He knows what we need, not just what we want, and so we must then rest in HIM.
So, God’s mercy may be shown to us by allowing us to suffer in order to humble us, to get us refocused, and to get us to have the right perspective about life; to get us to call on God, and to seek his face, and to recall his mighty deeds of old. If life is going well for us, we may end up thirsting for the things of this life, instead of thirsting for our Lord. Trials have a way of getting us to stop, to look, and to listen, and to pay attention to where we are going, and to what needs to be changed, and get us to make the necessary adjustments to our attitudes, heart, mind, and behavior.
The Way I Should Go (vv. 7-10)
Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
When we have learned what we needed to learn, and when we have made the necessary adjustments to mind, heart, and actions, in the power and working of God’s Spirit at work within us, God may remove the trial from us, but he may not. He knows what we need, and he knows how he plans to use us for his glory, so he may tell us, “My grace is sufficient to meet your need, for my power is perfected in your weakness.” So, he may not remove that “thorn” in our flesh that he has allowed to torment us. Yet, God’s ways are higher than our ways, and his purposes go far beyond what we could possibly be able to comprehend. He knows the beginning from the end, and so, when we have prayed for mercy, we need to trust him. We need to rest in him. We need to believe he knows best, and that he is going to work it all out for his glory and for our good. This is where I am. How about you?
If God does not deliver us from evil attacks against us, or from trials and tribulations (dark valleys), he will deliver us through them. He will carry us through, and he will lead us in the way we should go. And, it may be a way different from what we had been going, or it may be he is setting us aside or pulling us away from other lesser things in order that we can give more time to what he deems most important, especially since he knows what is going on in the world and the timing for everything that is going to take place.
So, we need him to lead us in the right way, and to know his will, and to be led on level (straight) ground, so we are not being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine coming from men in their deceitful scheming. Or, so we aren’t wasting time with what is meaningless, but we are being fruitful for his kingdom work in order that many may be saved or brought back to God into pure fellowship with him once more, before Jesus returns for us.
His Tender Mercies / An Original Work / January 26, 2014
Fear not! I’m with you.
Be not dismayed!
God watches o’er you.
Trust Him today.
He’ll lead and guide you;
Give you His aid.
He’ll love and keep you
With Him always.
Walk in His footsteps.
He’ll lead the way.
Trust in His love;
Believe that He cares.
He will not leave you.
Faithful He’ll be.
His tender mercies
Now you will see.
Fellowship with Him
Throughout the day.
Tell Him your heartaches.
He’ll heal always.
Rest in His comfort.
He is your friend.
Your faith He’ll strengthen,
True to the end.