“Lord have mercy!” — a phrase we often hear or say. Indeed, the phrase is so common, that the shock might have worn off.

But God’s mercy is shocking! The Creator of all that is grants mercy when God could rightfully condemn or punish. God’s mercy is the ultimate gift and show of love to us. When we deserve the worst and are the most unlovable, mercy tells us differently.

Do we realize this gift? And do we know how to respond?

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God saw what they were doing—that they had ceased their evil behavior. So God stopped planning to destroy them, and he didn’t do it.

But Jonah thought this was utterly wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Come on, Lord! Wasn’t this precisely my point when I was back in my own land? This is why I fled to Tarshish earlier! I know that you are a merciful and compassionate God, very patient, full of faithful love, and willing not to destroy. At this point, Lord, you may as well take my life from me, because it would be better for me to die than to live.”

Jonah 3:10-4:3

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Jonah is struggling. God has called Jonah to what he sees as an impossible task, to prophesy in Nineveh. And then God changed the rules on Jonah, and Jonah is mad. M.A.D. So mad that he prays to God to take his life rather than let him live to see the change happen. Jonah can’t imagine that God would change God’s mind enough to offer mercy and forgiveness on wicked, evil Nineveh.

I hear Jonah, because these people have been bad, and God had promised wrath. But they repented, and then God decided they didn’t deserve punishment after all. It’s like when my younger brother misbehaved and I just knew he was going to “get it good,” but then our parents let him off the hook when he apologized.

Too often we think we know what’s best, forgetting that God is our Creator and the one who decides what’s best. The mercy of Almighty God is way more powerful than any condemnation we feel is justified. And if God makes the choice for mercy then maybe we should follow suit.

Katie Barrett Todd

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Merciful Creator, I struggle to accept your compassion, especially when it’s directed toward those I deem unworthy of receiving it. Help me to be less judgmental. Move me toward a compassion more like yours, so I can acknowledge that your mercy is for everyone, not just for me. Amen.

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Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

Pope Francis

Accepting the mercy of God means consciously changing our way of thinking. It requires us to realize that the One who is the Creator has love for all.

Allow yourself to be renewed. Let mercy flow through you into others.

Katie Barrett Todd

Rev. Katie Barrett Todd is the Executive Director & Pastor for UKIRK Greensboro, a PC(USA) ministry to college students in the greater Greensboro area. She holds a M.Div and MACE from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, NC. Katie has served churches and campus ministries in South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Nebraska. Mommy to Luke and Lilly, she’s married to Mason, a pastor at a nearby church in the North Carolina piedmont.

Making Space - Fallow Ground

Carter Harrell

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