I have often heard the words “Mercy is for the weak”. It is something one would expect to hear from a villian in a Hollywood action flick, but I find more and more than many people lack the capacity for showing Mercy. I don’t know whether this is a choice, a learned behavior, or a result of situation, but I find it disturbing. So when I hear that phrase “Mercy is for the weak”, I choose to think instead that mercy is for the strong of character, and mercy is from God.
Now before you think I am getting full of myself, let me explain why I have come to this conclusion. My wife and I were recently given the opportunity to either show tremendous mercy or complete complacency toward a little kitten that we named Ender.
Ender was brought to our doorstep by some neighborhood children who found him standing in the midle of a parking lot, crying for a mother that wasn’t returning for him. I don’t know why he was brought to our door, but I thanked the kids and took him inside. This kitten appeared to be only 3 or 4 weeks old. He was tiny, fuzzy, cute, but unable to fend for himself at all. My first instict was to find his mother. So, we took him outside to where the kids said they found him, and set him down in the grass to see what would happen. After watching 2 adult cats sniff him and walk away, the cries got to my heart, and we decided to take him in.
Over the next 2 1/2 weeks, we cared for this little kitten in every way possible. We tried bottle feeding him kitten formula, but finally had to resort to leting him suckle our fingers, while we poured the formula past his mouth. We bathed him, because he was too little to clean himself properly. We held and pettted him so that he could be close to a beating heart. We rearranged our lives completely for this little kitten, and were soon experiencing true love for him.
About 2 weeks into his stay, little Ender became sick. We rushed to the Vet’s office and had him checked out. It was then that we found out that Ender wasn’t 3 weeks old. He was closer to 6 weeks, and was severely under-developed. We were told that there was a good chance that he would not live, because of a congenital defect that many kittens in his state have, but that they wouldn’t be sure for a few more months. They gave us medicine for his illness, and sent us on our way. Unfortunately, Ender’s little body couldn’t handle the sickness, and a few days later he died in peace in my wife’s lap.
I don’t mean to bum you out with this sad story, but I tell it to illustrate this concept; Mercy makes us strong, and allows us to love.
I have no idea why our door was chosen for the gift of Ender. I have no idea why he got sick. I certainly have no idea why, when we did everything we could for him, that he still passed away. I DO know that the time we had with him was special. I DO know that by showing mercy to this little kitten, we allowed ourselves to pour out love on something other than ourselves and each other. I DO know that even though he only had a few short weeks to live, that Ender experienced that warmth and love and nurturing care. And we are all better for it.
I think it says something that the word Mercy is found 126 times in the Bible. In Matthew 5:7(NIV) it says “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” God Himself shows us tremendous mercy everyday, even as he causes the sun to rise…”because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven”(Luke 1:78).
Even our very salvation is an act of grace and mercy… “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”(Romans 9:16) So how can we ever say that mercy is for the weak. I think that mercy shows a strength of character, causes a strengthening of love, and encourages a strengthening of our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Practice mercy when given the opportunity. Yes, sorrow and pain can sometimes arise when you open yourself up. But I am here today to tell you that this great gift was not meant to be horded, it was meant to be shared.
Ender Hopper (June, 2004)
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’