The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice.
–William Shakespeare, Act IV, Scene 1, The Merchant of Venice
I’m Jonah under the shade tree, alone and miserable in my self-righteous diatribe. I’m the older brother of the prodigal son, hurt and angry that You promote humility over pride-laced constancy. I lay my complaint before You as judge and You weigh hearts, motives, purposes and desires in eternity past and present before rendering mercy. My clamoring flesh chafes under Your wisdom. I am not asking for justice, but for judgment. This mirror-me lurks just beneath the surface, teasing the corners of my dreams and waltzing with every unattended thought. This is the abhorrence waiting for me in every reflected space.
The questions scream on, erecting panes of bitter glass in a dome around me. Why did He…? How could He…? And the zenith—a delicate filigreed deception that shadows all light filtering through to my heart, Don’t you know He’s forgotten all about you? Even worse than the insidious claim that You are withholding from me is this assertion of indifference. At least withholding requires some emotion. Here, in this climate-controlled ice-house, my world is pristine and untouched.
That is, until a falling cross knifes through the haze, and suddenly I’m caught up in a bloodbath—heat, disorder, desire and passion all directed toward me. And there You are, utterly uncontrollable and ignoring my terror at feeling things again, one hand armed with hope and the other brimming over with love. Love. A love that is there solely for my benefit without expecting anything in return. A love whose face took on its most definite shape in the height of rage and the depth of grief. What other love would lash punishment onto itself to spare me? I long for something that is already in my hands.
Mercy grows from a love devoid of self. My own human jealousy struggles that You feel this way for everyone because I have yet to grasp that personal love does not diminish in the face of corporate love. Tune my heart to know the height and depth of Your obsession with me, that I may too hold fast to a lens of mercy.