That is one of my favorite and most trusted prayers. In it, God is telling me, “I’ve got this Carla. Trust me. You have my word. You have my blessing and my grace.”
I’ve always liked the name Grace for a girl and who doesn’t love the song “Amazing Grace?” It’s a beloved classic and the lyrics are, well, amazing. What is grace though, and more specifically, what is meant by God’s grace? Is it merely a prayer we say before a meal? Heavens no!
Better yet, what is mercy? It’s a common name for a hospital and “mercy me” is often uttered but is it understood? What does it really refer to and/or mean? Mercy me I’m confused!
An email I received this past week compared grace and mercy. It said grace is getting what we don’t deserve and mercy is not getting what we do deserve. Huh? Max Lucado helps out by saying the difference between the two is best illustrated in the Prodigal Son parable. Mercy, he writes, gave the son a second chance and grace gave him a feast. Remember, this reckless son squandered all of his inheritance through unscrupulous living, as opposed to younger his brother who stayed and worked his father’s fields. Yet, when the older son returned and asked his father’s forgiveness, his dad through a lavish party for him. The younger son became angry and envious but later came to understand that his brother was given grace and mercy because “he was lost and now is found.”
That’s how God works too. Broken lives can be touched by His mercy and grace. Just like with the prodigal son, it is never too late.
“It is an insult to God to think your sins are greater than His mercy.”
Grace is generally defined as a supernatural gift from God that helps one achieve eternal salvation. Mercy, on the other hand, is when God extends compassion to those in need. God shows mercy to sinners and we in turn are expected to be merciful to others. We are His hands and feet here on earth and are to live as He would.
In reading about grace and mercy, I found that neither is earned and are often undeserved yet God, in Psalm 136, promised His loving mercy “endures forever.” I love how “Our Daily Bread” stated it, “In our disposable culture and temporary world, the permanence of God’s mercy gives us hope. We can trust Him because His mercy will never fail.”
We’ve all uttered the phrase “There but for the grace of God go I” and many of us have visited Graceland in Memphis, the famous home of Elvis Presley. But, did you know that “graceland” can also describe the place you find yourself when God forgives you and brings you out of darkness? Even when we are most down and downtrodden, sin and envy-filled, God’s grace can enter our lives as Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 12:9.
A Year Of Mercy
Earlier this year Pope Francis proclaimed an “extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy,” which will run December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016. His hopes are for the church to “make more evident its mission to be a witness of mercy” and a “place of mercy freely given.”
Holy Years are usually held every 25 years, the last one being in 2000 in celebration of the Great Jubilee. Extraordinary holy years, like the upcoming one of Mercy, are less frequent but also feature pilgramages and celebrations, calls for conversion and repentance, and special opportunities are provided for believers to experience God’s grace through the sacraments, particularly confession. By doing so, you will be strengthened, healed, and better equipped to fulfill God’s plan for your life.
Again, it’s never too late. As Pope Francis said, “God doesn’t tire of us; we are the ones who tire of seeking His mercy.” Grace, it’s amazing!