A precious sister-in-loss created this image.
It’s my theme song.
And the message of my heart.
Ever since I read The Merchant of Venice in high school, I’ve been captivated by the idea of mercy.
I had heard the word used in church, heard it exclaimed- “Mercy me!”-and even looked it up in the dictionary.
But it was Portia’s famous speech that lodged in my mind and touched my heart:
The quality of mercy is not strained;
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown:
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute of awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
~Portia, The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
Later, when I studied Scripture as an adult, I found the theme of God’s mercy repeated over and over again in the story of His people and His working through them to bring redemption and restoration to a broken world.
It hurts my heart when I see mercy relegated to a list as a “gift of the Spirit” and those who don’t feel “gifted” in this area given a pass on demonstrating an essential aspect of God’s character to hurting hearts.
I am reminded of the story of the forgiven servant in Matthew’s gospel (Matthew 18: 21-35). Oh how the king rebuked him for having received mercy yet withholding it from another!
Then, after he had summoned him, his master said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me.Shouldn’t you also have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’
Matthew 18: 32-33 HCSB
I believe that we who follow Jesus will be held to the same standard.
And if we can keep the vision of how much mercy has been poured out on our own hearts and in our own lives, it is so much easier to pour it out on others. We don’t have to manufacture it-we only have to be a willing conduit of the mercy already overflowing from God’s heart to our own.
When the deputy delivered the news that Dominic was gone, my heart broke wide open, its contents spilled on the floor.
But I knew it would not remain empty for long.
It would be filled with something.
And I begged God to fill it so full of love, grace and mercy that bitterness, unforgiveness and anger would be squeezed out with no room to stay.
I feel that He has been faithful to honor that prayer.
It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. ~Lamentations 3:22 AMPC