The Mercy of Misery

The joy of our hearts has ceased; our dancing has been turned to mourning.
The crown has fallen from our head; woe to us, for we have sinned!
For this our heart has become sick, for these things our eyes have grown dim…
But you, O Lord, reign forever; your throne endures to all generations…
Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored!” Lamentations 5:15-17,19,21

For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.” “God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
 Psalm 32:3-5; Romans 2:4

Many times through Israel’s history, God Almighty allowed them to experience misery, inflicted by enemies, brought on by natural phenomena or physical suffering, to lead them to recognize their rebellion, their idolatry, their desperate need for His mercy. And time and again, He lavished that mercy on them in ways that they could see only He had brought the deliverance. As we see this repeated in scripture, so in our lives. Mercy, by its very nature, is poured out over and over to an undeserving people who have a hard time learning its lesson once for all.

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While misery– of guilt, anger, broken communion, conflict, exile– comes about for a variety of reasons, we must always look to see where we might be culpable. Is it a mercy in God’s hands intended to uncover, to convict, to cleanse, to bring about reconciliation between individuals or factions? If so, what is my part? If God indeed reigns forever, He has some purpose, and instead of pointing blame, or sitting in judgment on another’s motives, the Lord is pleased when we try the heart, when we open ourselves for His searching and purifying fire. How beautiful the simple words of David and Nathan, “‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ ‘The Lord also has put away your sin.'” (2 Samuel 12:13; Psalm 139:23-24)

“Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let that grace, Lord, like a fetter,
Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it;
Prone to leave the God I love:
Take my heart, oh, take and seal it
With Thy Spirit from above.” 

~Robert Robinson (1735-1790)

Would I remove the martyr mindset, confess my part in misery’s cause, and take the high ground to see things as God does, accepting and yielding to His purpose? It is on these heights my soul can sing.

Father, thank You for Your kind afflictions that show me Your fathomless love and mercy. May I gratefully submit to Your rule over all things, and ever sing Your praises, that Your mercy is magnified.

 

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