A/N: As you may know, for a while now, God has been placing on my heart the idea of Mercy’s War, so much so that I’ve started this blog so I can write about it, and made it the focus of my VCE Studio Art so I can get creative with it. I guess that it’s no surprise that when I was asked to share a devotion at a meeting for my upcoming Philippines missions trip, I knew I needed to speak about Mercy’s War. I would like to share this devotion with you guys through my blog so that you’ll get to know a little more about my mission and purpose in writing.
At first glance, Mercy’s War can seem like a conflicting ideal, because usually when we think of mercy, we tend to associate it with peace and forgiveness, whereas war is somewhat destructive, so, the two words don’t really seem like they go all that well together. But actually, in reality, it has quite a strong Biblical foundation.
In Matthew 10:34, Jesus says, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Again, this might seem a little confusing, because Jesus is supposed to be the Prince of Peace, right? This is just one verse from a whole speech where Jesus is warning of conflict and persecution, but in a society and environment such as ours, where Christianity is at least, on the whole, tolerated, what Jesus is saying may sound a little extreme. However, in various places around the world, and throughout all of modern history, Christians have been seriously persecuted for their faith – physically tortured, imprisoned and even brutally killed – and just because they choose to believe in God.
Although we may never face opposition such as this in our comfortable Australian life, that doesn’t mean that being a Christian is going to be easy. We all have bad days. In the verse I read earlier from Matthew, Jesus is actually trying to reassure us. Sometimes when things go wrong in our lives, as Christians, we have a tendency to either blame God for it, or wonder what we must have done wrong for him to allow such bad things to happen to us. However, Jesus makes it quite clear that we should actually be prepared to face opposition, because everyday, we are involved in “spiritual warfare” – the battle between good and evil, the fight for our souls. This is the very heart of Mercy’s War.
Take Job, for example. Job was a good man who loved God. He was hardworking, had a wonderful family, and was very rich. And yet, despite all of his good qualities, Job went through immense suffering and heartache. He loses his children and his wealth, and his friends gather around him not to encourage him, but to tell him that he must have stuffed up big time for all these terrible things to happen to him! However, Job says, “The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:21) In the end, God restores Job’s wealth and gives him more children. Job didn’t suffer because he had sinned against God, but because he was fighting in Mercy’s War.
If you, as a Christian, are going through a hard time right now, I really want to encourage you that it’s not your fault. You are not suffering because you have done something wrong. You are suffering because Satan is fighting for the control of your soul, telling you that you’re not good enough, or instilling doubt into you. Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming test, or you’re struggling with your friends or your family, or maybe it’s even as you’re preparing to go the Philippines. We are all fighting a battle. Don’t let the enemy win. Put on the full armour of God and believe in the promises and the plans that he has for you. He has already won the ultimate victory. He has defeated the grave; even death cannot hold him down. You are cleansed by his blood. Hold tight to Jesus, because he will never let you go. Keep your eyes fixed upon him, because then you’ll be able to walk across even the stormiest oceans of life.
I have been promoted to go to the Philippines simply because God is calling me to be more servant-hearted, and to have my eyes and heart opened to the great need that there is in the world – the need for social equality, to bring an end to poverty, to love without being self-seeking, to be compassionate and just, but most of all, the greatest need of all: Jesus.
People need Jesus more than they need anything. A song I used to sing at kids’ church goes, “Father to the fatherless, friend to the friendless, hope for the hopeless.” Jesus is all of these things. He is the bread of life, and the light of the world. Through his death on the cross, he brings us the free gift of salvation. If we’ve been saved from the punishment that our sin deserves, and we experience fullness of life with Jesus Christ, why wouldn’t we want to share this with other people? This is something to really rejoice about!
Admittedly, I’m personally a little scared when it comes to sharing my faith. I don’t want to offend anyone, or make anything awkward, so sometimes, I just keep quiet, when really, I should be reaching out to other people, even if it’s just by being a friend and trying to love other people the way that Jesus loves us. Sometimes, people won’t want to listen. They just won’t be interested in Jesus, or even in you. But that’s just part of Mercy’s War. Like I said, sometimes, it’s not fun, and sometimes, it is a battle.
Before I wrap up, I’d just like to talk about a passage from Genesis 26:19-22:
“Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” ”
In a lot of ways, this story parallels what I’ve been talking about with Mercy’s War. Isaac is just trying to find some water to drink, but these other men keep arguing with him. Like Isaac, sometimes in our lives we will face opposition. But in the end, God will bring each of us into our own open spaces, our own Rehoboth, so to speak, and just like Isaac, and Job before him, we will prosper under God’s grace and love.
I hope that as I get ready to go over to the Rehoboth orphanage in the Philippines, I will remember this encouraging story of Isaac. Even though Mercy’s War isn’t always fun, even though life may be hard sometimes, God has “created enough space for us to prosper,” and to enjoy his love. Hold tight to Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed upon him. Put on the armour of God and be ready to fight. He has already won the victory, and he has “created enough space for us to prosper.”