“Pray for mercy”..Those were the words I heard from the Lord as I prayed when the first wave of COVID-19 hit Europe. Within weeks of beginning a new year, full of hope, expectations and plans, a virus came from the east, swept over the world in weeks. Countries closed their borders, economies fell apart, people were separated and doors were locked. Smiles were lost beneath masks, hugs became rare and for the first time we witnessed the horrific downside of globalization. It was truly a tower of Babel moment. My family and I were waiting on so many things to happen, and suddenly everything was uncertain, we were scared for our future. As I sought the Lord regarding this unprecedented event, these three words kept rolling around my mind over and over “Ask Me for mercy”. In response, the Holy Spirit took over my speech and I found my self, praying for mercy, for me, my family, my friends, for nations like never before.
Let me be clear. Sicknesses of all kinds are never born out of the mind of God. However, I believe God controls its author. Hence, He does have purpose in allowing such things in the world. The bible tells us clearly how God uses such events to judge mankind, to deliver, to purify and call man to repentance. While we may not know why God sometimes resorts to such measures; it is not always our business to know. However, I do understand the need for it. Without God, we are stubborn, arrogant and foolish in all our ways, and if left to our own devices we would destroy ourselves, and those around us. Our will is never easy to contend with. We all need a loud trumpet call to wake up sometimes. Perhaps Covid-19 was the trumpet call of our time.
As I continued asking the Lord for mercy, I became painfully aware of the depth of mercy the Lord has had in my life. The Holy Spirit then graciously led me to Jesus, the cross and what He endured, and I knew what my sin truly deserved. My cry for mercy turned to praise, and thanksgiving as I thanked God for saving my body and soul. The longer I spent thinking about the mercy of God, the more I understood why God led me to ask for it. It was what we all needed. More than anything else, more than ever before, we needed His mercy.
Mercy is defined as unmerited favor. There is nothing that we can do to deserve it. It is simply given. Scripture tells us that, God has mercy on whom He has mercy (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:5). It is vital for our existence now and forever. It is mercy that fuels compassion, gives us hope in times of darkness. It is mercy that reminds us of who God is, and in such a time as this, it gives us peace to remain calm, at rest knowing that God is good and sovereign over all. It is mercy, that protects us, gives us strength to fight through this virus, and live another day. It is His mercy that comforts when we have lost to this virus. It is mercy that intervenes, saves us from our sinfulness, and causes us to think and realize our need for repentance.
It was God’s mercy that gave us time during the lockdown to pick up our bibles, listen to a sermons, pray so that those who were lost could find their way, those who were faithful but weary and wounded found rest, and those who were weak and lukewarm rekindled their flame and remembered their first love. It is God’s mercy that millions more has survived this virus than it has taken. It is God’s mercy, that children are the least affected by it. It is His mercy that slowed everything down, so that we stop running the rat race and instead pay attention to what is around us.
We need His mercy, because we have forgotten the need for it. We need it because, He is God and in his wisdom, He has permitted such a plague to come, then its not because He failed, but because we did, and we needed to see just how far we had fallen. We have lost all accountability to God and to each other. In the comfort of our lives, we forgot him, that it all came from Him and belongs to Him. We need His mercy, not just for ourselves, but also for others, to stand in the gap for them and fight for their salvation. God, who is a father after all, will rather show mercy than pronounce judgment (Exodus 34:6-7).
How can we then position ourselves to receive mercy? Scripture reveals 3 ways.
- Asking and receiving
It is as simple as it sounds. If you come to God with all your heart, and say with sincerity, “Lord, have mercy on me”; you have received it. You have it, because it is Jesus who has given it to you. As you come to Him with an open repentant heart, our lord Jesus stand before you and God, pleading your case. In Christ your debt is paid, your sins are forgiven and you have a chance at a redeemed life, where mercy shall be given to you freely. And as you go on asking and receiving you will grow in your confidence as a child of God and walk faithfully till the end.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14)
- Merciful and forgiving. Freely you have received. Freely give.
- Humility and Holiness
As God freely gives mercy, we are not to take it for granted. God is holy. He is infinitely merciful, but He is also righteous and just. There is a time for mercy and I believe that time is running fast. As the end days approaches we are not called to trifle with what God so richly and freely gives, but to treat it with respect and allow it to transform our lives and help us to be faithful to Him till then end.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses‘ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)
As this year draws to a close, let us continue in this moment of quietness with all the distancing and restrictions, and just stop. Let us take a good long look at ourselves and at the world around us, and ask God for mercy. Mercy for the fallen and strayed, for the deceived and blinded, for the weary and wounded, mercy for the church to take its stand take this precious gospel to the ends of the earth. Let us pray for mercy for every leader of every nation, every government, that they may lead with the fear of God. Let us ask for mercy for those who are in rebellion with God, forsaking His ways, to be released from the chains of satan, that they may see and know that the Lord God is good, He is Holy and He saves. Let us ask for mercy for the 1.78 million families who mourn, that they may be comforted. Let us ask for mercy for us all, that this unprecedented global pandemic will drive us not to disappointment and doubt, but to deeper praise and worship because, God is good. God is merciful and He is with us.
I pray that the next year will be a year of transformation and revival for the church. That we would wake up and open our eyes and pay attention to what is around us, and be aware of the deceptive schemes of the enemy weaving its way through social systems, economies, and public policies. Let us arise and be of sound mind, that we may see the times and understand. This pandemic is a foretaste of what is to come. So let us prepare with the word of God deeply embedded in our hearts and minds, and faithfully walking in the straight and narrow path. Let us as parents strive to be the Godly example that our children deserves, because the future belongs to them and it, is our job to get them ready for it. Though the days are indeed evil, God prevails, His purposes triumph in the end. Victory is ours in Jesus name!
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-20)