Lenten Devotional: Monday, April 15
Have mercy upon me, O God Psalm 51:1
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.”
Oh, how my mother loved to utter this phrase! In her younger years she would often use this sentence as a declaration whenever she had heard an unbelievable fact or a wild story. “Lord, have mercy!” were common words I heard uttered for a multitude of reasons throughout my childhood. It evoked a sense of “southern charm” for a woman who had been born in the northeast part of Ohio to southern born and raised parents, who I am sure also used this term quite frequently. If my sisters or I dared to misbehave, if the electric bill was higher than normal, if unexpected guests arrived. . . you name it and my mother was asking for “mercy”.
Later, as my mother aged and her health began to deteriorate her requests for mercy were more frequent and took on a new meaning. Her requests were now more of a distress call to God. She was almost demanding help with the many aches, pains, loneliness and fear that accompany old age. Some of those pains were almost unbearable for her at times. Occasionally the physical pain could be seen in her eyes and the emotional pain after our father’s death was almost too much for her. My mother’s faith was unwavering. Asking for mercy would occasionally become a calming chant. It helped our mother to cope.
Our mother died on a warm, Sunday afternoon a few years ago after an eleven day coma, unable to speak or to ask for mercy or anything else for that matter. Then, it was left to my sisters and I to ask for God’s mercy, not only for our mother but ultimately for ourselves. Losing our mother was extremely painful. It was worse than we had ever imagined. We were not prepared for such grief. We leaned on each other for comfort. My sisters and I were brokenhearted. We have since realized that we had truly found God’s mercy right there, waiting for us, in each other.
This particular psalm is one of the penitential psalms and it was composed by David as a confession to God after he sinned with Bathsheba. David was looking for forgiveness and cleansing. David was asking God to grant him a new start, claiming the Lord wants him “broken spirit and broken heart and all”.
I encourage you to ask for God’s mercy. If you are broken, for no matter what reason, His loving mercy will find you too.