Pause

Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. As you slowly inhale and exhale, breathe in the truth of God’s mercy. The radical notion that God extends favor and blessings to us when we don’t deserve them.

What kind of God is this?

A God that seeks your fellowship in this moment.

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Listen

I’m going to bring them back from the north; I will gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the disabled, expectant mothers and those in labor; a great throng will return here. With tears of joy they will come; while they pray, I will bring them back. I will lead them by quiet streams and on smooth paths so they don’t stumble. I will be Israel’s father, Ephraim will be my oldest child.

Jeremiah 31:8-9

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Think

Today we read more about Jeremiah’s vision of mercy for God’s people. Yes, destruction is coming, but afterwards God is going to gather Judah together regardless of where they are. God includes everyone in this plan — even the most broken and burdened. God has got this, just like a kind and loving parent, God will lead them.

Have you been on the receiving end of mercy? As a child, on more than one occasion my parents mercifully offered me love and acceptance as an alternative to the punishment I justly deserved. This gave me a glimpse of God. Unfortunately, I seem to be pulled by retribution — to want the bad guys to get theirs. I guess I’m a work in progress. Practicing mercy continues to be a struggle.

The 19th-century preacher, E.H. Chapin said, “Mercy. That is the gospel. The whole of it in one word.” I’ll keep struggling. How about you?

Bill Ogletree

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Pray

God, change my desire to get even as I struggle with the notion of mercy. Recognize that it is not easy. Remind me that I have received your mercy, and help me to look to you as my guide. Amen.

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Go

In 2013, Pope Francis shared that Jesus’ most powerful message for us is mercy.

In a “get even” world, where can you share the radical message of Christ’s mercy today? Can you extend mercy within a broken relationship at school or in the workplace?

It may not feel natural or be easy, but as the Apostle Paul reminds us, with God all things are possible.

Bill Ogletree

Bill Ogletree is a professor at Western Carolina University where he chairs the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. His professional interests center on the communication needs and abilities of people with intellectual disabilities. When not at work, Bill enjoys time with his wife and family, an assortment of pets, and a variety of stringed instruments.

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