The Many Faces of Mercy
By Anne Jackson
August 13, 2012
Anne Jackson is an author, speaker and strategy consultant based in Grand Rapids, Mich. She is currently pursuing a degree in clinical psychology and in her free time loves to bake cupcakes and read old books. You can find her on Facebook.
There was a season in life when my prayers included asking God to hold me—physically. I wanted to feel arms around me, keeping me safe and helping me not feel lonely in the nighttime hours, once the day quieted and the distractions faded with the sun.
I am a creature of habit, and most nights my routine was the same: read, turn off my lamp, pray, feel alone, pray again, wait, resign and eventually float off to a restless sleep. My twin-sized bed was as big as the ocean, and I was lost in the middle of it. Even in Tennessee’s summer heat, I rolled myself into as many blankets as I could stand so I would feel something—anything—surrounding me.
My prayers were not answered in the way I wanted, and I never understood why.
I wondered where God’s grace was in everything I was experiencing.
To say I floundered in self-pity is an understatement. After a particularly frustrating evening, a friend sat with me in my pile of bills and confusion and tears. With a defeated voice, I told her I wondered where God’s grace was in everything I was experiencing. I wanted respite in every imaginable way and thought God was holding back His mercy from me.In hindsight, that simple correlation was my problem. I equated mercy with relief.
In her wisdom, my friend asked me one simple question: “Do you want relief? Or do you want to be whole?”
In the moment, I wanted relief. Desperately. However, over the last couple years, I can see how God’s withholding of emotional reprieve has been the most profound mercy I could have ever asked for.
I equated mercy with relief.
Mercy has many faces, and I only knew one: the one that soothed bruised hearts and broken spirits.
That mercy lives and breathes relief, but it’s not always the mercy we most need or the mercy that will do what's most important: reveal Christ’s love and glory to the world.
Mercy brings both comfort and pain. Sometimes mercy surrounds us with silence, leaving us feeling forgotten and rejected. This mercy is the most difficult to accept, but I've learned it's also the most imperative to transformation.