Have Mercy

By Lisa FIscher

We were on our way to help.  We were just taking food to fill bellies and loading a car to empty a house.  A house once filled with love and family is now barren, probably empty a long time ago.  And so we are on our way.  My children are in the car full of questions.  My heart is divided.  Broken for this marriage, for this family, but full of joy at these big questions from small people that display such curiosity and compassion for their brethren, fellow image-bearers of God.

“Where are they moving?” 

“Ohio”, I respond.

“Do they speak English in Ohio?”  He asks so innocently.

“Yes”, I assure them as I giggle under my breath, “it’s still in the United States.” 

“Oh, good.” Relief holds her words in a soft, gentle voice. “It would be hard enough to move to a whole new place, but having to learn a whole new language, too?!?”   

Yes, sweet girl.  Hard. Enough.  I don’t tell her how my sweet friend is learning a new language.  Hope shattered is a new language no matter how many times you must learn it.  But I leave the silence alone and we sit with our thoughts, their compassion.

Compassion.   Bursting right through the heart seams.  Preparing to enter in… into another’s mess, another’s path stretched out, one we cannot ourselves fathom walking down.  And with it comes questions, so when we enter in, we understand the hearts around us a little more, handling them ever so gently.

It’s in these everyday moments of life that I learn about things like mercy and compassion.  Mercy is compassion in action.  And I’m learning how to have mercy.  Not to fix it, restore it, make it all better.  These are the things my soul screams to do, but only God can do that.  Through their questions, I am learning to prepare my heart to walk right in, get my feet dirty while washing the feet of the broken.   

We go to the hard places and just do what we can do.  Feed bellies and empty a house.   We cannot do any more in this situation.  We can only do what God asks of us. When we leave, the marriage will still be shattered, hearts will still be burdened, this family will still be broken.

This is how Jesus loves.  He bears our burdens.  He comes alongside us in the most desperate of times, when our hearts have fallen in a thousand pieces.  He breaks with us, cries with us. He enters the stench, the dead center of it, no matter the size.  And He asks us to do the same for each other.

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 In the Lenten wilderness, in the stillness with my Savior, I am getting pretty tired of myself.  And that alone is paving a path to mercy. I think that is what I am learning the most. That I can’t be like Him when I am focused on me.  I’m over me.