A Gracious and Merciful God

Nehemiah 9:31
Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.

The people of Israel trace the history of their nation, highlighting God’s involvement every step of the way, His goodness so evident alongside their continual rebellion and disobedience.  He had made promises and kept them.  He had protected when they were in danger.  He had fought when enemies showed up.  He had provided when a need arose.  He had delivered them from bondage.  He had guided them and spoken to them and been with them.

But time after time they had disobeyed God’s commands.  They had gone after other gods and bowed to idols.  They had profaned His holy temple and neglected the righteousness He wanted for them.  They had corrupted themselves and forsaken Him.  But all of that just magnifies the grace and mercy of God.  He tolerated all of this from them, and still He didn’t destroy them completely.  Still He answered when they cried out to Him.  Still He watched over them and preserved them.  He didn’t give up on them, and now He’s giving them a chance to rebuild.

And surely we can see God’s hand of mercy if we trace back our own life story, our history, and see the many times we’ve failed Him, the times we’ve forsaken and disobeyed, the times we’ve rebelled and pushed Him away.  And still He is merciful to us.  He hasn’t given up on us.  He’s answered when we’ve cried out to Him.  He’s come near to us in our most broken moments.  He’s provided and blessed despite our ingratitude.  He’s loved us when we’ve acted so unlovable.

That is our God—abundantly gracious and merciful.  That is the character and the heart of the God we serve.  That is who we bow before in humble praise and adoration.  It might overwhelm us to look back at our lives and see the mountain of mistakes recorded there.  But His grace is bigger than all of that.  It might hurt our hearts to know just how much we’ve hurt Him, but His mercy is there to surround us.  So many times we can feel like our lives are just one series of failures after another, but our great God doesn’t forsake us.  And when we return to Him, He gives us the chance to rebuild, as well.

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