Monday of Lent III – Prayer of the Week

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

She had not been one of popular girls as a child and adolescent. In fact, several of her classmates had been quite cruel to her, even bullying her. But now, as an adult, she was a successful writer and was happily married to a man who loved her. She was over it. Or was she? I recently read an article by this woman. She elected to get back in touch with all her classmates, including those who had been so cruel to her in 7th grade. One of them, one of the worst, initially refused contact. But the author of the article was persistent. She was reaching out to all her old classmates as part of a writing project, which was true.

The woman, the 7th grade bully, finally called her and tearfully apologized for being such a monster to the author some 30 years ago. The author of the article talked about how her former nemesis was now figurately prostrate at her feet, begging for mercy. When she was twelve years old, she had dreamed of this day, of being able to be cruel in return, of evening scores. She discovered that she still bore a great deal of anger and grief from her unresolved childhood experiences.

The prayer notes that God’s great glory is always to have mercy. You can only have mercy on people over whom you have some position or power. The judge can have mercy on me in court, but only if I am guilty. If I am innocent and he sets me free, it is not mercy, it is justice. If I am broken down by the side of the road, someone can stop and have mercy on me, giving me a lift into town. Their functioning automobile and my need give them a position over me. When someone apologizes to you, they put you into a position of power over them. You could take vengeance. An apology is really admitting that the other person would be justified. God, always having more power, more righteousness, more of everything, is always able to have mercy.

The woman who wrote the article had a choice that day. She could have gotten even, been cruel back to her former tormentor. It might have evened the scales. It would have solved nothing. Together they wept and she had mercy on this penitent woman. God’s wisdom, love, and compassion are inexhaustible. He has so many reasons to bring his wrath down upon our heads. Yet, his glory is to have mercy. He hears this prayer we pray today. He is gracious to all who go astray. He reaches out to sinners again and again, not in some attempt to bring their sins down upon their head but because he would forgive them all, including you and your sins. Answer that phone call when it comes to you.

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