We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12:-6-8
When I took a Spiritual Gifts test in high school, I wanted my result to be Leader. Evangelical culture values the hero, celebrates the leader, and worships the Man of God up front. In our weird little hierarchy of heroes, clearly the most spiritual among us would be the leaders, right? After repeated multiple choice testings, my own results always came out as Prophecy and Teaching. I wasn’t thrilled but hey, at least it wasn’t the gift of mercy.
Mercy just seemed like such a lame spiritual gift to those of us out to change the world. Who could change the world with compassion and kindness? Behind the scenes isn’t quite enough for a Big Big God with Big Big Plans.
Talk about missing the point, eh?
Bless the merciful.
Bless the hospital chaplains who cry and pray in trauma rooms with the scared and the hurting. Bless the older woman who folds the young mother’s laundry. Bless the young red-head who brought me muffins and coffee during this week of sickness. Bless the father who scrapes puke up off the floor only after he’s gently washed and dressed and comforted the sick child.
Bless the ones who cry too much and feel too much. Bless the wounded healers.
Bless the kind ones, who speak words of life and gentleness. Bless the benefit-of-the-doubt givers, the one-more-chance lavishers. Bless the comforters and the kleenex-passers. Bless the walkers-in-another’s-shoes. Bless the wheelchair pushers. Bless the ones there waiting after the chips fall, and the edifice crumbles, and the truth comes out. Bless them for their grace for both the flyers and the thud-ers, for the fury and the glory.
Bless the ones who sling grace, and bandage wounds. Bless them for they give dignity to the rest of us. Bless them because they see us and they love us anyway.
Bless them for standing in our thin places between too-much and not-enough, the places where our hearts are breaking and our fears are manifesting and we are so scared and so alone, bless them for being the ones that show up in the fault lines to hold our hands and pray and weep with those who weep.
Bless them for their patience, for their supernatural ability to stop rolling-their-eyes, for their ability to be present instead of checking out for something more fun. Bless them for their joy in the face of suffering, for the patience in the teeth of our never-going-to-change, and their faith in our story.
Bless them for their heart to ease the suffering, to smooth the edges, widen the roads. Bless them for their cups of cold water, and their plates of food, for their prison visiting, for their preemie-baby hat knitting, for the nursery rocking so tired mamas can worship. Bless them for the healing work of their ministry. Bless them when they smell of salt tears and someone else’s shit. Bless the merciful because they are, so often, Jesus with skin on, for the rest of us.
Bless the merciful as they carry our own burdens with us, and we cannot know how low they are bowed with the grief of the whole world groaning for justice and peace. Bless the ones who serve without fanfare or book deals or conference attention. Bless the ones who love their children, day after day after day, without thought of a speaking career or a MOPS invitation. Bless the ones who care for the aging and the dying, for those making the way a bit smoother for the families left behind. Bless the ones who hold the hands of the poor and broken and you and me. Bless the ones running right towards the hurting, instead of running away like the rest of us.
Bless them because it takes more guts to be merciful, compassionate, and kind than we could have ever imagined. The older we get, the more we value the kind, the merciful, the compassionate, because the more we realise that most of us, almost all of us, are getting rather lonely and tired, and we need a cup of cold water and a bit of grace, and dignity, and kindness clears the air.
If you care to comment, I’d love to hear about a person of mercy in your life. Let’s celebrate the merciful today.