Vindictive Mercy

Life is Just Not Fair

Last week I had the opportunity to interview a young man who, happening into the wrong place at the wrong time, was incarcerated for eight years for a comparatively insignificant crime of gang fighting. I've known of drunk drivers who murdered to get off on less time. Not only that, he wasn't the only guilty one, but he alone was singled out of the numerous young men involved, I believe, because he was the only one from out of town. The conservative and quiet community wanted to make an example out this young man in order to put a stop to any future gang problems. At the time, his sentence seemed very unfair and the young man was bitter.

Last year, a friend of mine buried her 18-year-old son. He was drinking and driving and misjudged a corner, flipping his truck into a ditch. This woman had raised her son on prayer and in the faith, taking him to church and building a godly heritage into his life as best she could. Why would God let her son die so prematurely and in such an undignified manner? Didn't her prayers get through for her beloved son? Was God unfair?

We often make judgments about our lives with human reason, trying to make sense out of what we see and understand with such limited perspective, when only God has the big picture. But what if God allows this short-term suffering and unfairness with the purpose of leading us to long term mercy? What if God isn't as concerned about the here-and-now temporal suffering as He is about our lasting freedom and blessing?

The young man who was in prison for eight years began a personal relationship with Jesus through the ministry and investment of a godly man in the local community. Now he looks back and feels no bitterness…only gratitude. Without his time in prison he wouldn't be where he is today—a man set free from the prison of sin and bought back to life from a gloomy death sentence.

My friend who buried her son heard from God about her son. God told her in a dream and through a couple other sources that her son's life was cut short out of mercy. He had a drinking problem that would have likely destroyed his life in much worse ways had he lived longer, and maybe also the lives of others. She has been given the assurance of the reward due her faithful training (and prayer) as a mom—that her son will be joined to her on the other side. 

A perfect man lived 2,000 years ago. He suffered physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually in the temporal world, so that you and I could be set free in the everlasting world. Yes, God didn't even spare His own Son the pain and sorrow of this world. On the contrary, God was the One to inflict the wounds on His only Son so that He could show us His wonderful, amazing mercy. God's perfect sacrifice of His own Son for our sins brought us beautiful, liberating vindication.

There is absolutely nothing fair about that, and I'm so thankful!

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Posted in categories: Edgy Thots | Enlarging Faith