Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (NIV)
I had very little understanding of other people's pain until I had a knee go bad. As I struggled to continue the chores of everyday living with constant pain, I became aware of those around me living with pain.
I was reminded of the times when I'd been critical of others making an effort to survive despite their pain. I hadn't wanted to understand when they offered "reasons", which I called "excuses". If only I'd known their pain. I hadn't tried to understand. The advice I offered was to smile and be positive, think on pleasant things, and mind will overcome matter. But when I hurt, regardless of what I thought about, I still had pain. Now I understand.
William Barclay, a Scottish theologian and writer, suggested that the Hebrew word "hesed" or "mercy" means the ability to get right inside the other person's skin, to see through their eyes, think through their mind, and feel things with their feelings. Wow! Do any of us show mercy for others?
Do we analyze others this closely before we criticize or judge them? I'm afraid I'll have to say no to this.
Isn't that what God did through His Son, Jesus Christ? Through Him, God got inside the skin of human beings. As a man, Jesus had feelings like us; He saw with eyes like ours and reasoned with a mind like ours. He knows how it is to suffer pain, to be rejected, ridiculed, denied, spat upon — even to die humiliated between two thieves on a cross. He experienced everything we are likely to feel, see, or be exposed to in this life. He understands. He's been there.
We need to develop the ability to see, feel with, and understand others as though we were inside their skin before we criticize or pass judgment. This is the mercy that the Lord gives us.
Prayer: Father, thank You for Your mercy. You've been there before us, and You understand our pains and our spiritual needs. Help us to be merciful to others as You have been merciful to us. Amen.
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