Becoming a mercy giver
By Jackie Morfesis
There is probably no topic that I have written on or ruminated upon as extensively as mercy. Certainly, as Christians, mercy is the cornerstone of our faith. God sending His Son to be crucified for us on the cross and to redeem us of our sins is the greatest act of mercy.
Yet as we move in the world, we have such varied views of what it means to be a mercy giver, even as a Christian community. For many, mercy is inextricably tied to one’s political views, personal ideologies or even a narrative agenda. Yet, for me, mercy is simply and will always be extending compassion, protection and witness to the suffering.
And suffering means anyone and everyone who suffers. God has a way of using us for His glory. And life has a way of preparing us to be used for God’s glory. In many ways, it was my life experiences, from childhood to the present, that led me to being a mercy giver.
I will not recall every incident, but there were a few that were so life shattering that I only had two choices: to descend deeper into a chasm of grief, sorrow and hopelessness, or to surrender to the Lord to lift me from the cavern of my heart and hold me through the tunnels I traveled. I chose the latter.
Though I have mentioned this before, it bears mentioning again, especially in this season of turmoil, unrest, hardship and tensions. When I was in my early 20s, I was living in a family home that was doused with gasoline and burned to the ground. We were sleeping and barely escaped before the house exploded. One might only imagine how I feel when I witness anyone’s home, business or community being burned in an act of rage.
I was also physically assaulted during a store robbery in New Jersey. Even before that event, I had empathy for anyone being physically attacked. And I know the deep pain of betrayal that can only come when those we have trusted have committed acts against us that only the darkness dares to speak. My childhood friend, who was like family to me, became a man who acted from a place of self-greed and desire. I was a casualty of his lies, deceit and cruelty. And my most beloved and accomplished cousin was murdered. I cannot help but think of Genesis 50:20 in all my trials: “As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good.”
I have also dealt with physical pain to the point where I, like St. Paul, have asked the Lord more than once to take this thorn from my side. And though I have had great comfort, peace and mercy in my trials, the thorn still exists. And these words come to me again and again: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecution, in difficulties” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I do not advocate that we suffer. Nor do I want to multiply my own sufferings. But I know that being brought to a place of pain has been fertile ground for the Lord to enlarge my heart, strengthen my soul and fortify me with the courage to not only stand for myself but for others. Because it is not my mercy to give; it is the Lord’s mercy that works through us.
There is a fire. And it is a fire that rivals any fire set by human hands. There is an explosion, and it rivals any explosion dreamed by human minds. And there is a transformation that rivals any transformation we could possibly imagine.
God is just waiting for us to allow Him to burn His love into our souls. To completely transform our lives with His healing presence. To propel us into being His warriors in the Kingdom. He will take what we have lost and not only replace our losses but also magnify our blessings. He will give us new sisters and brothers — new family. He will bring security. He will raise us from the ashes and bring beauty where others tried to sow ugliness. Deuteronomy 30: 3-4 confirms this: “God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he’ll have compassion on you; he’ll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there …” (MSG translation).
I am learning to see my life not from a limited and very human perspective but to see my life with God’s hand over my life from a spiritual perspective. There is and will always be a greater picture to behold and a greater purpose to be lived. We only need to surrender whatever burdens we are carrying to the Lord, and He will find a way. He will show us the path. And there is a time that comes through grace when that is the only path we want to travel.
Jackie Morfesis has a BFA in fine arts, MA in liberal studies and teacher certification from Rutgers University. She held a Rotary Scholarship to Greece in the arts and humanities. An artist, poet and educator, she is a Greek Orthodox Christian and involved with prison ministry in the Charleston area.