I will rejoice and be glad because of your mercy.
Mercy is not a quality that we tend to ascribe to God. Despite the scriptural witness, we use “almighty” as our main qualifier, especially in structured worship. Yet the psalmist is strongly aware of the mercy of God, aware that gentleness and tenderness are also attributes of the divine Presence.
Mercy is known when someone who could remain completely uninvolved reaches across a gap of pain or distress or isolation and makes a life-giving connection. Some years ago I was in an emergency room, in a lot of pain, and sick beyond description. I was shuttled to the x-ray department, and left alone, shivering and frightened, on a cold gurney. I was so pressed that I began to cry.
Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, a technician appeared and placed a warm, moist towel on the back of my neck. He said something kind. I remember his presence more than his words. And I knew mercy embodied and real. When I was coming completely unraveled, out of fear and acute pain, he came and stood with me. I never even knew his name.
Sometimes we are the ones who bring mercy to others. Sometimes we are desperately in need of mercy ourselves. When we step into the continual flow of mercy from God to humanity and from each of us to one another, we recover what it is to be made in the image and likeness of God. We remember that our humanity is intended to reflect the God whose mercy reaches the depths of suffering, the ache of grief, the maw of the grave.
Merciful God, grant to me the willingness to be merciful as you are merciful, and the openness to receive all the mercy that You offer. Amen.
Copyright ©2006 Mary C. Earle.