Waves of Mercy
Picture for a moment the scene of ocean waves continually rolling onto a long sandy beach. The Lord recently revealed to me that His mercy is exactly like those waves, constant and never ceasing.
Lamentations 3:22-23 says,
“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” (NLT)
Without the mercy of God, we’d be finished. For God in His anger can be as fierce as a hurricane and then in His mercy become like a peaceful ocean wave.
God loves us so much and is saddened when we intentionally do things contrary to His will. The pain isn’t surface level with God, but cuts deep within.
Do you remember how crushed you felt the last time a loved one hurt you? If you are like me, you were highly disappointed at their neglect for your feelings. We’ve all been there before. Then, while you might have been angry with the person who wronged you, you were also willing to forgive them because of their heartfelt apology.
Now, by placing God in the same scenario, perhaps we can gain a better understanding of the Father’s heart. Yes, God desires to demonstrate His mercy in our lives. His mercy gives us another chance even after we’ve blown it.
The awesome thing about God is to know what He says in 1 John 1:9,
“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” (NLT)
I personally enjoy being at the coast and relaxing to the sound of waves crashing upon the seashore. Whenever I return from spending time there, I am always refreshed and renewed. The ocean can be a treacherous place, but it also shares similar characteristics with its Creator. Everything on earth carries evidence of God’s character and handiwork; however, to me, the ocean is one of the greatest representatives in all of creation. As with God, the ocean is a source of life, strength, and tranquility.
Ocean waves, in particular, are truly amazing. Each time a wave washes up on the beach it carries away a portion of sand from one place to another. As a result, the waves, sand, and beach will always change. God deals with our sin in the same way the ocean deals with sand. He washes over us with His waves of mercy and takes away our sins.
Audio Adrenaline illustrates this clearly in a segment of their song, Ocean Floor: The lyrics speak of the songwriter’s sins, how they haunt him and are ugly. Then it makes the analogy of these sins being washed away by large ocean waves (God’s forgiveness) and they are as gone as the ocean floor is when wiped away by the churning surf.
Every day, God wants us to truly experience His mercy and do what 1 Chronicles 16:34 tells us,
God isn’t stingy with mercy. The sunshine you enjoy on a beautiful day also warms everyone else in your area. Good health, jobs, education, families, and friends are all the result of God’s mercy over His creation. Even those who don’t recognize or thank Him for His goodness are recipients of it. However, His universal mercy is only temporal and cannot save anyone eternally.
There’s a limit to God’s mercy because it cannot contradict His other attributes—like holiness, righteousness, and justice. Sin must be punished in order for God to remain just. And without justice, mercy and forgiveness would be meaningless. This dilemma was the reason Jesus Christ came to earth to die: He satisfied God’s justice by bearing the penalty for our sins.
Although God offers the mercy of salvation to all through the gospel of Jesus Christ, only those who accept Him by faith receive it. Yet so many think lightly of divine kindness, tolerance, and patience; they fail to realize that these blessings should draw them to repentance (Rom. 2:4). These people trample underfoot His mercy and continue on their merry way, oblivious to the fact that justice, not mercy, awaits them in eternity.
Even believers can abuse God’s plentiful mercy by engaging in deliberate sin while telling themselves, “He’ll forgive me.” But as the ones who are redeemed and given eternal life, we should be overwhelmed with love and gratitude for what Christ did. Giving up the heavenly rights, authority, and comforts due the sinless Son of God, Jesus came and suffered divine justice for our sins so we could receive His Father’s mercy.
Do you remember the last time you experienced a challenging or difficult situation? Maybe you’re in the middle of one right now. We usually don’t get excited about going through them. In fact, when trouble comes, we sometimes ask, “Why is this happening?”
Many times, things happen that we simply don’t understand. But that’s okay—God doesn’t expect us to have everything figured out. We can trust that He knows and will take care of everything. He wants us to look to Him and say, “God, I have no idea what I’m going to do, but I’m trusting You to take care of me.”
The truth is, when we are facing difficult situations that we don’t understand, one of the best things we can do is to trust God. It allows Him to take the wrong things that have happened and work them out for our benefit. Romans 8:28 (NIV) says, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
We can trust that He is with us through every challenge we face, and we are ultimately going to come out stronger in the end.
Over the years, God has taught me so much about what it means to trust Him. For example, years ago, I really had to trust God when He told me to quit my job so I could stay home and study God’s Word more. Even though God was preparing me for full-time ministry, it was hard because we were short $40 each month of what we needed just to pay our monthly bills.
For six years, we had to have a miracle every month in our finances, and it didn’t make any sense to me at all why it was taking so long for our breakthrough. But God was teaching me how to trust Him for everything. I look back now and know that God was using this situation for my good and preparing me to do what I’m doing in ministry now.
Getting Comfortable with Not Knowing
I have learned from personal experience that putting my trust in God means there will be some unanswered questions. That was a hard lesson for me because I naturally want to understand everything…to know what’s going on so I can feel like I’m in control.
It’s just human nature to try and figure things out. So, when we’re in the middle of a situation, we can quickly find ourselves trying to reason our way through it. We generally want to know “Why, God, why?” or “When, God, when?” We want to know now how everything is going to work out.
But when we trust God, we have to get comfortable with not knowing everything—not knowing how God is going to accomplish what needs to be done and not knowing when He will do it.
Instead, God wants to direct our paths (see Psalm 23:3; Psalm 37:23), and that means He sometimes leads us in ways that don’t make sense to us. If we try to figure everything out, we will experience struggle and confusion. But there is a better way.
Instead, we can completely lean on Him, believing He wants what’s best for us. I know it’s easier said than done, especially when “life” happens—when we can’t quite see how everything’s going to work out and we’re tempted to take matters into our own hands.
But Proverbs 3:5-8 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight…
Entering God’s Rest
Saying we trust God is one thing, but when we really trust Him and lean on Him, we enter His rest. It’s a special kind of rest that you can have even in the middle of difficult circumstances. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to have all the answers, but you are trusting God to take care of you.
Most of us have spent our lives trying to take care of ourselves, but we must learn to trust our lives to His care. When we try to do things in our own strength and leave God out, we just get worn-out and frustrated. But when we fully lean on God, it brings us His peace. When we stop trying to figure everything out, God can be God in our life.
I want to encourage you to trust God completely in every area of your life. Remember that He is always on your side and He is fighting for you as you go through the challenges in your life. He loves you and has your best interest at heart at all times, and He is close to you when you’re hurting most (Psalm 34:18).
Streams in the Desert – May 31
Times have changed, but life’s hard times haven’t
You will come to your grave in a full age, As stacks of grain are harvested in their season. (Job 5:26)
A gentleman, writing about the breaking up of old ships, recently said that it is not the age alone which improves the quality of the fiber in the wood of an old vessel, but the straining and wrenching of the vessel by the sea, the chemical action of the bilge water, and of many kinds of cargoes.
Some planks and veneers made from an oak beam which had been part of a ship eighty years old were exhibited a few years ago at a fashionable furniture store on Broadway, New York, and attracted general notice for the exquisite coloring and beautiful grain.
Equally striking were some beams of mahogany taken from a bark which sailed the seas sixty years ago. The years and the traffic had contracted the pores and deepened the color, until it looked as superb in its chromatic intensity as an antique Chinese vase. It was made into a cabinet, and has today a place of honor in the drawing-room of a wealthy New York family.
So there is a vast difference between the quality of old people who have lived flabby, self-indulgent, useless lives, and the fiber of those who have sailed all seas and carried all cargoes as the servants of God and the helpers of their fellow men.
Not only the wrenching and straining of life, but also something of the sweetness of the cargoes carried get into the very pores and fiber of character.
—Louis Albert Banks
When the sun goes below the horizon he is not set; the heavens glow for a full hour after his departure. And when a great and good man sets, the sky of this world is luminous long after he is out of sight. Such a man cannot die out of this world. When he goes he leaves behind him much of himself. Being dead, he speaks.
When Victor Hugo was past eighty years of age he gave expression to his religious faith in these sublime sentences: “I feel in myself the future life. I am like a forest which has been more than once cut down. The new shoots are livelier than ever. I am rising toward the sky. The sunshine is on my head. The earth gives me its generous sap, but Heaven lights me with its unknown worlds.
“You say the soul is nothing but the resultant of the bodily powers. Why, then, is my soul more luminous when my bodily powers begin to fail? Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart. I breathe at this hour the fragrance of the lilacs, the violets, and the roses as at twenty years. The nearer I approach the end the plainer I hear around me the immortal symphonies of the worlds which invite me. It is marvelous, yet simple.”