“Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men”

(Psalm 107:8).

Dr. David Jeremiah writes in a recent devotional (8-3-11):

When a gunman shot ten Amish children at their school, the world watched to see the reaction of the Amish community. With exemplary forgiveness, the Amish extended mercy to the man’s family and pledged to heal the community. But the clarifying moment happened before the girls were shot. Details emerged that the killer asked the girls to pray for him. That’s when God’s grace illuminated the horrifying scene. The girls prayed for their killer, giving him what he didn’t deserve, extending love to the unlovely.

No one deserves grace, yet we all hope for mercy.  He saves us “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:5, KJV).  To grasp the full extent of God’s love for us, it is important to understand that mercy is God’s withholding the punishment we rightfully deserve (Romans 5:8; 6:23).  Grace is God’s not only withholding that punishment but also giving us what we do not deserve—His most precious gift—His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:1, 14).

Satan planted doubt of God’s goodness in Eve’s mind by convincing her that God was holding out on her and not giving her something really good—knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:5).  Why would He deprive her of knowledge and enjoyment that looked so appealing?

Our thoughts are similar to Eve’s when we do not agree with, or understand, what our Father God thinks is best for us.  From our perspective, “good” is that which is comfortable, enjoyable, delightful, or profitable.  Therefore, we sometimes doubt God’s goodness—especially when it feels as though He is not hearing or answering our prayers to our liking.

It is essential to remember that the Cross, not our circumstances, is the barometer of God’s love and goodness.   Instead of relying on our feelings, which are ever-changing, we can choose to trust Him more and believe with confidence that He is good.  His goal always is to develop Christ-like character in us.

Dr. Jeremiah concludes: “Are you facing a personal crisis?  Your heart aches, your world has shattered. Like the Amish with their astonishing healing response—look for ways to extend mercy.  Step outside of your own pain and extend God’s love and grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it.”

When we’re tempted to deny

God’s goodness, love, and grace,

Look to the cross of Calvary,

Where Jesus took your place. –Sper