Thoughts on God’s mercy

Last night, I woke at 2 AM, which is fairly typical. Last night was a bit different, though, because I was also attacked with an unrelenting darkness that buried me in a dense cloud of shame and worthlessness. That is more infrequent, but that particular dark cloud is not a stranger to my room.

The black cloud that envelopes me seems to whisper at me that I don’t deserve God’s compassion. It is for other people, not for me. I am outside of it looking in the window at God’s mercy to others, but it will never be for me. I’m too…useless, worthless. It’s hard to describe, but I would imagine that I am not the only one who gets attacked by this particular cloud.

The trigger for this particular cloud is that I had fairly intense pain for the last 5 days that there was no relief for. I couldn’t sit. I couldn’t stand. I couldn’t lie down. It wears on you.

I’m telling you this because one thing that chronic pain does is isolate you and make you feel like you are alone – hence, the black cloud. So I am telling you, if you struggle with chronic pain as well, you are not alone. And these thoughts you have are also not unique, nor do they put you outside of God’s compassion.

But let me go on.

I have learned that simply lying there in the dark staring at the ceiling is not an effective solution. So after trying for 30 minutes or so to sleep, I got up and opened my kindle paperwhite to a wonderful book by Dane C. Ortlund called “Gentle and Lowly.” (If you don’t have it, get it now).

He wrote something that stuck on me like a burr and won’t shake off. I want to share it with you so you can think about it with me. He wrote,

“Unlike us, who are often emotional dams ready to break, God can put up with a lot. This is why the Old Testament speaks of God being “provoked to anger” by his people dozens of times….But not once are we told that God is “provoked to love” or “provoked to mercy.” His anger requires provocation. His mercy is pent up, ready to gush forth. We tend to think: divine anger is pent up, springloaded; divine mercy is slow to build. But it is just the opposite.

And I thought about that. It occurred to me that this is a difference between the gods of the pagans and the God of the Bible. The settled state of the gods of the pagans is either anger or indifference. They have to be provoked out of it. This is why they had to eventually offer their children as sacrifices – to try to convince the gods to pay attention to them. It is why Cain offered the sacrifice that he offered. It is why so many churches are full of so many people trying to get God to listen to them, to pay attention. “If only we worked harder, did more, loved more, gave more money, purged ourselves from sin, did better….”

But the settled state of the true God is love. Mercy. Compassion. He must be provoked to anger. And that takes a long, long time. In fact, he is reserving his wrath for the day of judgment. The reason that he delays is that he is not willing that any  should perish, but that all should repent and believe the gospel. The goodness of God should lead us to repentance. He is so good to us that he did not come in judgment as soon as mankind deserved it. He first sent his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish but have everlasting life.

I had everything backwards under my 2 am cloud. I still tend to view God as my earthly father. If I accomplished enough, did enough, made no mistakes, worked hard enough, and found the right formula, then perhaps I can get him to at least notice that I am here.

But God is not my earthly father. He is my Heavenly Father. His settled state is compassion. I don’t have to provoke him to love. His love is already there. It was his love that provoked him to provide a sacrifice for our sins, to speak in human terms. It was his love that caused him to send his only begotten Son into the world, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

My Christian walk is not about trying to appease God’s anger or indifference. It is about resting in his love through faith in His Son, who gave himself for me. In that rest, I can turn outside of myself and my accomplishments and simply love and serve those whom God has placed around me.

It is God’s anger that is provoked, not his love. And that changes everything.

Think about it.

A pagan god – indifferent or angry. Must be provoked to pay attention.

The Covenant God of Abraham – full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, plenteous in covenant faithfulness and love.

OH – and get Dane Ortlund’s book.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
(Rom. 5:8-10)


Filed under Gospel, Love, Patience, Thankfulness

26 responses to “Thoughts on God’s mercy

  1. Jennifer Bales

    I needed to read this right now. Thank you. I am hurting right now . Not physical pain like you are in brother . I am so sorry that you are pain. Mine is more of a mental pain, I sometimes feel like I am on the verge of a breakdown . Reading what you have written here is very comforting . Thank you for pointing us to the one who comforts us and loves us.

  2. Bunkababy

    The only thing I gotta say is that thing called my mother is STILL alive probably tormenting the aerosols in the air. Giving her 86 too many years to repent for things so atrocious jail is too good for. If I look at God like you said I wonder how much more provoking God can take, and just wish he would allow her breath to be snuffed out , one very long choking, snarly, gritty breath. Kinda like the snuffing out game she played with me when I was 5. You know practicing being dead game that every mother plays with their kid. And that was one of the nicest ones she inflicted.

    Everyday is one too many. Because everyday I live is another day too many – reliving the utter horror she has inflicted on me. The saddest part is when she does die I’m still here reflecting the terror that I can’t stuff down anymore.

    • I am so, so sorry for that pain. I cannot even imagine.
      I know that God is just and is greatly angered by wickedness and abuse. Our justice will always be messed up.
      Remember this – God is not saying, “It doesn’t matter”. He is saying, “I got this, dear one. Just wait a little while longer”

      All in all, as painful as it is, the fact that God is longsuffering is the reason that all of us are still here.
      He WILL set this right and when he does, we will all see how perfect and holy and just he actually is.

      Psalm 73 is about exactly what you are struggling with. It isn’t new.

      And my heart breaks for you. No one should go through a childhood like that.
      God hates it even more that we do.

    • janetlynnem

      I am so sad for you, Bunkababy.

  3. Bunkababy

    I think the kids of those people who did sacrifice them Got off lucky. At least they didn’t wake up with a mean face looking at them saying “oh you’re still here, see God didn’t even want you” after being bruised, broken and bleeding from a night of tempting the Gods. I think my mother thought she was God. When you are 5 and want to get dead, but your mother has seemingly pursued all routes, what hope is there?

  4. Bunkababy

    That psalm did hit a soft spot somewhere inside thanks.

  5. Bunkababy

    Sam I appreciate what you have to say a lot! I’m just dealing with huge amounts of PTSD the last episode happening in the ER psych ward. In reflection it kinda put me on speed dial to see a psychiatrist. The last time I was at the hospital the psychiatrist basically said no one in our area had the experience to deal with my level of trauma. I’m hoping my appointment on Aug 27th can lead somewhere. I have watched videos on Peter Levine, and Janina Fisher who use Somatic Experience. It is based in science and not as creepy as it sounds. I particularly like Janina’s approach on the baby and child’s developing mind. It explains so much of my behaviour.

    I know God is there, I just can’t be bothered with all the particulars. It’s too much. I do like going to the beach. The strength , heaviness and expanse of the ocean envelopes me somehow and my problems seem like the pebbles on the beach when I am there.

    • I hear you, and I understand. EMDR therapy has proven quite beneficial to PTSD. I hope that God leads you to the ones who can help you the most.
      We will be praying for your appointment.
      I also do not judge those things I am not an expert in. I just pray that you can find peace. The brain is a very complex thing, and I am thankful for those who are learning its secrets.

    • just ... K

      Sweet Soul Bunkababy,
      I read your words … was triggered … and cried.

      I hear you. I see you. I am *so sorry* for your intense, overwhelming, completely understandable pain.

      In a tiny way I want to remind you that the reason I can see, hear and care, is because we’re made in the image of God – Sweet Soul, He saw you, heard you and cared before I did. Before Pastor Powell did.

      I am praying for you. Feeling for you. Wishing you well. May you be blessed with good help and deep, restorative peace. I long for this for you.

      (((Hugs))) – if that’s an O.K. thing for you.

      • Bunkababy

        I appreciate your words and Sam’s. Sometimes they hit really hard. (In a good way). Virtual hugs are fine. Real hugs scare me. I will reread your words over and over. I usually revisit these posts about 20x. Thank you for your empathy and tears.
        And Sam your physical pain is not lost on me, unfortunately I know physical pain well. It sucks out your soul. I’m very sorry you have been dealt that card in life.

  6. Z

    Bunkababy and others here like me who have PTSD/C-PTSD and battle the sensory and mental flashbacks and memories of our horrifically abusive childhoods. Psalm 73 is the only real comfort I can obtain.
    I think we also have such difficulty in being able to receive the love of our Heavenly Father because we received the exact opposite of that love from our earthly father and/or mother. (In my case, both of them were my abusers.) So naturally, I find it extremely hard to “feel” so loved by my Father in Heaven. I know it’s true and real in my head b/c His Word says so, but it’s a foreign FEELING to me and likely to anyone who was truly unloved as a child. I was abused physically and all the other ways possible regularly and was always shown I was unloved and was told directly that I was hated. Regularly. This all prompted such hopelessness and helplessness that I prayed to die often as a child and teen.As an adult I’ve gone No Contact with all my former family of origin, which caused pretty much everyone I ever knew to turn against me for this “Christian No-No”. These are mostly all professing “christians”! I’M the villain, NOT the KNOWN LIFELONG “CHRISTIAN ABUSERS”. (I now know there’s no such thing!) So my adult life, like yours, bunkababy, has been filled with the mental and physical repercussions of the abuses. Besides severe C-PTSD, I suffer daily chronic pain and have a limited life as a result. For most of my adult life, after escaping that house of horrors, I survived by stuffing, compartmentalizing, distracting, detaching, resisting thoughts of the life (I thought) I’d escaped…and after achieving a successful advanced education and a long fulfilling and distinguished career all on my own, the dam then burst. The “whole weight of it all” came flooding to the surface after a bad, triggering weapon attack by my abusers and now it all won’t go back inside again. It’s been a complete crash. Since then I’ve been in mental and physical anguish every second I’m awake. I’m afraid to go to sleep as I have sensory panic attacks in my sleep in addition to the flashback nightmares and insomnia. Boy, bunkababy, does your description resonate with me! There is no expert in my area that has the expertise in dealing with the lifelong myriad and depth of the widespread abuses I’ve experienced. Meds, hospital stays, counseling…none of it can make a dent in the deep, deep grief I feel all the time. They tell me I have to “come to a place of acceptance” of all the extremely malevolent things done to me by so many in my former family and their allies. I have to just accept that the evil humans I had the misfortune to be born to and share DNA with were capable of such depraved acts and mindsets of such cruelty to another human being. (While professing to be “christians”. That additionally does a number on a child’s view of God for sure. Spiritual abuse too.) But how one comes to that “acceptance” is something no one can seem to tell me HOW TO DO!
    So I cry out to God as the Psalmist did in Psalm 73. I drench my pillow each night. I pray and wait for justice that likely won’t come on earth. The wicked DID prosper in their satanic desire to steal, kill and destroy my life. They got what they wanted and got away with it. But I firmly believe my God. I believe He saw every abusive act and heard every hateful word toward me. He saw every betrayal and abandonment by frauds who say they “follow Christ”. He saw and sees and counts my tears. And He WILL repay their evil when HIS Judgment/Justice Day comes. I have to cling to the promises of Psalm 73. The destruction of the wicked as their end and eternal destination. And to the promise of the Lord Himself taking me into glory on the day Jesus returns or I die. That’s what comforts me. But I need prayers to “feel” my Heavenly Father’s LOVE though. I’m having a hard time with that. Thanks.

    • Bunkababy

      Everything you said it true for me also. I have no idea how you managed a career. Wow. That is such a feat.

      I have C-ptsd also. It seems like there is nothing that was left untouched by pain and abuse. I experienced every imaginable abuse under the sun by my dad and a myriad of my parents friends. I don’t have a clue why I survived my birth at 30 weeks. Foster care, and adoption at 2.5 yrs.

      I was hospitalized at 2 yrs for infection and my foster parent came in the room. She recalls me having wrapped the blood pressure cords around my neck and I was turning blue at the point she walked in. She did she ripped into the nurses so bad they were shaking. She was my only source of comfort early on.

      I usually just ask God how many days are my allotment and just plug along. As you said the night brings no relief.

      I always was under this weird illusion that I was unaffected in so many ways…what a ding dong thing to think. My whole minute by minute existence is shaped around trauma. And I am becoming increasingly made aware of this because of intrusive flashbacks and the tiny voices of my experience ringing in my head. Deep shadows fill my mind. Ghost like snippets of screams and terror echo deep in the recesses of my mind. Afraid. Afraid to let go, afraid to be seen, heard, and dismissed. The newest understanding of self hatred was a way to cope. Separation of self through hate lays deeply embedded in my form. It has come to light in these last weeks I need to not hate the little girl who suffered. Don’t hate her. She’s you. She enabled your survival. It’s all knowledge.

      I cannot help hate that 2 year old being scrubbed raw in the cement sink. How can you love weakness? I see myself cold, naked, red And brown running with the water into the hole as my mind slips into the that dark tiny drain that holds my secrets and shame. Somewhere my DNA of shame and disgust are floating in the sea and yet they remain every time I look in the mirror. Physical evidence is gone. And yet the emotional is subject of medical debate, left up to skepticism . Again and again that fear of reprisals and unbelief scream validating torment that the experience wasn’t real or that bad. You made it up. Just like they said.

      It’s a lot to absorb. There is no peace and no rest. I have never been relaxed. My muscles are stiff from flight or fright. My companion pain isn’t just a normal pain, it is rooted in trauma. It never ends.

      I am not suicidal. There is no point. Many things should have killed me and didn’t. My Husband, my kids and now 2 yr old grand baby are what I live for .beyond that I have no idea why I am here.

      And Out of all the vile evil things done to my person, I cannot imagine justice. I cannot imagine more evil that what I experienced. How could there be more?

      I don’t think life holds much joy for anyone and why we exist at all is a mystery. If we are image bearers of God what image do I or others like me represent?

      • Z

        Dearest bunkababy, just…K, Worshipper of the Most High, janetlynnem, and of course, Pastor Sam,
        I thank God for all of you and for all others in this community who post words of wisdom and comfort to those of us who are still limping and wounded. It’s true, knowing there ARE godly people who don’t turn away from the messiness and inconvenience of our messed-up stories of depravities done to us by evil people is a true comfort. Most “christians” in my life scattered and turned their backs on me when I spoke out about the truth of the abuses (that they already knew about). They have “blood on their hands” too. Because they took away our faith in the goodness of humanity and of Christians in particular. They took our ability to trust in people. So we isolate. We suffer our anguish, our mental and trauma-related physical pain conditions mostly alone.
        Bunkababy, I’m so glad to know you have a husband and family you love and who love you. I have a true godly husband who is my 100% support system. My abusers robbed me also of the desire to have children (as is common among those with horrific childhoods-they often don’t want to repeat anything having to do with “childhood” or “parenting” after what they experienced those things to be).
        Some of the remarks of those who replied are spot on. Whenever I read those Bible verses about how a mother could never forget her nursing child or a parent would never give their child something they did not ask for but only good things, I get a gut-punch feeling. Those things DID happen to me. Then I remember that as was said in the replies, our God of Perfect Righteousness and Justice saw, heard, and WILL repay in kind those parents who did give injury and damage to His innocent children instead of the love and care He tasked them to give us. They caused His children to have to stumble and crawl through this life as children and adults and therefore a millstone and the deep sea is TOO GOOD for them. He will repay them with WORSE.
        I’m so thankful for all the wise and kind words and the prayers of those in this community. There are true Christians here. There is God’s love shown here. How I wish I had such people in my real daily life. But Jesus is always with me. I make sure to remind myself by vocally thanking Him for being with me about every hour during the day and all night.
        Bunkababy, you say you struggle with self-loathing because you see yourself as “weak”. WE WERE CHILDREN! We were DEPENDENT on the “adults” in our lives as children all are! We just got demented, demonic adults as our “caretakers”. But WE SURVIVED! WE are the STRONG ones!! How “strong” is it to harm a defenseless child? It’s the weakest, lowest, most depraved who do those things. We actually aren’t the “disordered” ones. CPTSD-which occurs when the abuse is ongoing and there’s an element of “imprisonment” or inability to escape (as with children who are dependent on their abusers), as was the case for us. It should be renamed “CPTSR”-Complex Post Traumatic “RESPONSE“- NOT “DISORDER”! Those who abused us are the “DISORDERED” ones. We suffered injuries to our developing baby and child brains (I was abused as a fetus! Father kicked mother in pregnant belly over and over. The stress hormones flooded my fetus brain and caused changes that affected me thereafter and still. I never had a chance in life being born into that constant environment.) BUT WE SURVIVED. We are the strong ones. We may struggle now but God promises to get PERFECT JUSTICE AND VENGEANCE FOR US. I’m clinging onto that promise. And taking it day by day. Earth is SHORT. Eternal life is LONG. I know where I am spending eternity! And I leave vengeance and justice to God, to send the evil ones who did what He detests to their eternal fiery punishment because He is a JUST, HOLY and RIGHTEOUS God.
        I appreciate you all. I don’t feel so alone in having such traumatic injuries and scars.
        God bless you all and thank you for the prayers. I’m praying for all of you too.

    • Worshipper of the Most High

      I appreciate you sharing all of this, Z. I have CPTSD too but mine isn’t from childhood but rather from what psychopaths did to me in adulthood. Many think CPTSD is childhood trauma only but a lot of severely battered women come to have such because the prolonged torture and prolonged captivity and relentless, chronic violence and violation and endless abuse in adulthood, by psychopaths, for example, produces such a grave injury, too.

      But wow, your story, your experiences, the effects on you, your coping strategies, the deleterious harms. It so resonates with me. The chronic pain. The whole thing. I feel less alone, having read your comment. Too few people really get it and so trying to relay your life’s struggles and conditions and limitations to those who’ve never suffered such can be a trip. Denial, disbelief, unhelpful ‘advice’, and so forth proceed from those who’ve never experienced such themselves and thus doubt it and the severity and the permanency of it all. So, it’s validating to read your comment.

      Thanks be to God we have the pastor’s blog and the ability to read others’ experiences.

  7. just ... K

    To dear Bunkababy and Z,

    I read what you had to say more than 2 hours ago (now there is a new response too) and just wanted to say that I have been carrying you both in my heart. Oh how I wish you could know that there are people who care! And in their own small place, and in their own limited experience on this planet, there is a degree to which others can understand.

    You are not alone.

    Bunkababy, thank you for accepting the internet hugs. I would like to hug you again. (((HUG))) and with tears in my eyes, I would like to take the 2 year old in the cement sink and sit her on my lap and shield her from the storms and pain that were going to come. Sweet child, I am so sorry. Little one, you don’t deserve this… Bunkababy, I understand your self loathing. I understand your feelings of futility – but I only see a little child from where I am standing. A sweet child that I want to protect. Long to lift up and carry away from the future.

    I am *truly, deeply sorry* for your pain.

    My spirit was not quiet after I wrote to you last night – wondering if talking about the image of God was going to be confusing, hard, a stumbling place. And I prayed about it, because making it harder for you is not what I desire. Not at all.

    I ended up thinking about how God uses parental language to try and explain things to us. He does this repeatedly. In Matt 7v9-11, Jesus talks about parents naturally looking after their children, to explain the love of God. But think about this, Jesus said: “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children…”

    Then, gently, let’s think – if Jesus calls *reasonable* parents evil, what do you think Jesus thinks of parents who *won’t* “give good gifts to their children?” What about parents who *actively* give suffering and harshness to their children? What category of unbelievable evil does He place them into? (The answer is, it’s REALLY bad. It’s way worse than being drowned with a millstone around their neck – Matt 18v6.)

    God revealed Himself to us as a mother in Isaiah 49v15 – He asks, “Can a mother forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb?” The answer is meant to be laughable! God is asking this question in a way where we reply “Yeah right! Like that can happen!” He then goes on to say that just like that, He can’t forget us in the same way. And the message is meant to be that even broken parents are meant to teach us something about the love of God. HOW broken then are the ones that turn away and actively hurt their children instead? How *utterly perverted* have they become?

    Your parents were meant to love you. Hold you when you cried, comfort you when there were monsters under your bed. They were meant to do that even as broken people, you were meant to understand that there was a Greater Father, because your parents had painted a small picture for you of what He looked like.

    Dear hurting ones … here is where I am going: When your parents were hurting you, can you understand that they were at that very same time blaspheming the image they were created to bear? If you can imagine Jesus standing next to you during those dark moments, they were simultaneously heaping curses and filth and false accusations on Him. Every stroke of pain you experienced, in this sense, He experienced with you. It was all a lie. They lied to you and they lied about Him. They hurt you and at the same time cursed and betrayed the image that they were created to carry and to imitate.

    Bunkababy, you ask, where is your own, created image of God? Sweet soul, it is in the fact that you talk about justice at all. That you talk about purpose. That maybe in your life you saw something, even if it was fleeting and found it beautiful. That you still care about your husband, your little grandchild. God created justice, purpose, beauty and relationship. You talk about those things. The fact that abuse makes you angry … God is more deeply offended and angry than you are. Anger about abuse and cruelty and the thought of injustice is your image speaking. It’s there.

    Precious soul, you are not meaningless. Your suffering has been counted – EVERY. SINGLE.MOMENT. God has the account, and it *will be paid*. Your ability to come to terms with it, or your abuser has absolutely no bearing on what happens to that account in eternity because God holds it. *Only* God can deal appropriately with sin and a sinner. I say this because there is no immediate pressure on you to deal with those things. They’re outside of your jurisdiction and control. (Writing this and getting my words right is hard, I want to help you and encourage you to loosen this aspect of your suffering so that you can focus on your own healing, I have no desire to heap guilt on you, if you’re thinking about justice and your anger – my words are not intended for that at all!)

    I pray that you can find peace and enough faith to know that if you could see into the future, God can be trusted to deal with everything, in a way that will satisfy your longings for justice beyond what you can imagine. It will be *perfect*.

    You ARE seen. You ARE heard. You have VALUE.
    That is the message of the cross. I pray that little by little on your journey, you will see that more and more clearly.

    And Z, I send virtual (((HUGS))) to you also (if those are O.K.) What has happened to you is shameful and WRONG. I am praying for you too.

    May God fill in the gaps for me, in trying to let you know that you matter. People care.

  8. Bunkababy

    Just K
    “A sweet child that I want to protect. Long to lift up and carry away from the future.“

    This made me cry deeeeeeeep inside. It’s as if you spoke to that 2 almost 3 year old. The thought of someone carrying me away from the future is beyond comprehension and yet nobody has ever said something so utterly loving to me.

    I know you tried to convey an image of parenting and mothering and gathering but it is as if those things from a Godly place of understanding are unattainable.

    To be honest a millstone dropping to the bottom of the sea doesn’t seem that harsh. First couple gulps of sea water, the lungs fill up and it is over.

    But I am in awe and gratitude for all of your compassion. That is not lost.

    I don’t mean to hijack the comment sections. Sometimes the thoughtS just flow out. I don’t keep a journal. It’s almost therapeutic to write here at times.

    Thank you Just K for spending time with Z and I.

  9. janetlynnem

    Z and Bunkababy, Just K’s words to you are so wise and compassionate that I have nothing to add, except this: I read your words, tears streaming down my face. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved. And I am praying that Pastor Sam’s posts about love will comfort you in some small way. I agree that a millstone is too good for those child-torturers…but I rest in the truth that God sees all things, that He is LOVE, and He is JUSTICE.

  10. Bunkababy

    Hey , a shout out for those who said they would pray about that appointment. No worries. It got cancelled. Thanks though for your really nice words though.

  11. I was up last night having that battle.. (thinking the angel of death in Egypt passed over). not because God couldn’t save me but my unworthiness… circle the wagon and remember Your love God. And it is for me…I am the only me there in Your creation and You wanted me! Enough to create me and sacrifice Your life incarnate for me! And I woke up grateful … and you, sir, were in battle too… thank you for sharing our humaness.

  12. Joshua Ruck

    As I am currently in a very mentally exhausting situation reading this helped me a lot and I’m definetly going to buy Dane Ortlund’s book.
    I again thank you from deep within my heart and wish you luck with getting better.
    Come quickly, lord Jesus!

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