Romans 9:16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.
Mercy is an interesting thing. Implicit in it is deficiency. In looking for mercy I find myself with head and dignity bowed, subjected to the will of another. In looking for mercy I have ceased looking for answers. Specifically in terms of humanity we have (and are, sadly) scouring the planet for answers to our problems, our deficiencies, our uneasiness…and what do we find? Temporary reprieves. This will not do for me, I cannot have my deficiency satisfied by minutes, or hours or even days of distraction, no I need permanent and prevailing peace. I need what the Jews have historically called shalom.
I have felt the burden of my sin upon my back. I know the fear of death, the uncertainty that awaits me on the other side of the final closing of my eyes. I have trembled and stayed awake at night in fear that I might somehow pass into eternity before I awake and then stand before the Judge whose name is Righteous. I have done the quick self-inventory of religious and moral things that I have done and grasped at them as if they are valuable and in some sense able to assuage my guilty conscience, only to find them dissolve into nothing in light of God’s Law.
I firmly believe that it is when one realizes that in view of God’s prevailing perfect standards and unwavering holiness that they are not only completely unable to pay the debt that God requires but also unwilling, that therein a state of extreme inadequacy will shortly set in. The realization of such a standard is often met with tears and dread, for if God is just than I am damned! I quickly realize that in order for me to be removed from this awful predicament, I must cast myself upon the mercy of the One who is good and does good (Psalm 119.168).
If God is merciful then he does not give out what is deserved (i.e. I have earned hell, eternal judgment).
How can God be merciful and how can I receive it?
In the next three posts I’ll address the basis, the display and the reality of divine mercy.