Isn’t mercy supposed to be a relief? In my mind mercy is getting to take the easier road. Mercy is a relief, a pardon. But what if mercy is the harder road? What if the merciful path is actually more difficult? Is that even possible?
I was recently introduced to the phrase “severe mercy” and it has stuck with me ever since. I can’t get it out of my mind. What if God’s mercy is sometimes (or always?) a severe mercy? This isn’t surprising, per se, especially when one considers the cross, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense either. The difficult times in are life are just that; difficult. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t mean life gets easier or clichés suddenly become the norm, in fact it gets harder. Life can be really stinking hard. What if this is a good thing though? The old adage is true: hindsight really is 20/20. Am I supposed to find comfort in the fact that everything will make sense at some point in the future?
Sometimes I forget the trauma of the cross. I forget that it was gut-wrenchingly brutal. That the fact that Jesus was crucified was actually a stumbling block for new believers – no one could believe that God would endure that. Still, death in and of itself can be pretty easy, but that’s why being a Christian can be so difficult – the story doesn’t end in death, but life; and that is really hard to work through. How do I love with the love that loved through death? (does that sentence even make sense?) How do I celebrate, rest, and accept God’s severe mercy when it is actually much more difficult than apathy or death?