Thursday, 11 July 2013

Children & forgiveness {God's mercy, and how to learn from it}

Do you ever have days on end, where you seem to have a child having to say "I'm sorry", over and over again.  Forgiveness is duly offered, and certainly in our house, a hug and a kiss seals the deal. But then, it happens again.  Maybe not the same child, or the same misdemeanours, but certainly the apology/forgiveness happens once more.

There are times where it can be frustrating.  We are often amazed at a child's inability to learn a particular lesson, or certainly not learn it very quickly. The same disobedience over and over again. And yet, we still forgive.  As much as we may not always FEEL like it, due to exasperation and dismay, we still accept their "sorry", once more. We would never dream of turning around and saying "forgive you?.. you're sorry?... well, I'm not interested and I don't forgive you."

It's interesting then, despite our deeper understanding of things spiritual, that we cannot understand, or expect,  that God would continually hear and answer our continual pleas for forgiveness.  Like the very children who may frustrate and exasperate us, we sin over and over again. We seem to be equally slow to learn, and to grow in areas where we are still so immature, spiritually speaking.  We come to the Lord, seeking His forgiveness... again.... and almost feel like He couldn't possibly hear.  That we are a lost cause.

Thankfully, as I heard my husband preach last Lord's Day,

"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:"

I had often thought of the first part, as a great encouragement in a day of spiritual decline. I had never really applied the latter part to MY situation.  Yet, it's true.  The Lord's ears are never blocked up to the requests we make.  The "heavy" word, in the verse, really translates to "not hard of hearing".  He's not deaf to our prayers and petitions.  He is ready to hear, and willing and able to forgive.

Psalm 103 is a wonderful Psalm, when thinking about our sins, and God's forgiveness.

You see, forgiveness and mercy are all tied up together.  It is because of God's mercy and kindness that He is so ready and willing to forgive.

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. 
He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. 
He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 
For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. 
As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. 
Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. 
For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust." 

Isn't it wonderful to read these words?  To know that God is not quick to get angry with us when we sin.  That His mercy is plentiful. That He does not *stay*angry with us. That He does not repay us what we are due, when we sin.  That His mercy is higher than the heavens, and that our sins are removed completely. That the Lord PITIES us - He remembers our human frailty, and we come back to the beginning and see His mercy all over again, BECAUSE we are sinful beings.

Verses filled with such hope and blessing, which we do not deserve.

Similarly, in Psalm 86.

"Be merciful unto me, O Lord: for I cry unto thee daily. 
Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. 
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee." 

Just like the Psalmist, our requests for forgiveness are a daily thing - or they certainly SHOULD be. Coming again and again for forgiveness and mercy, which He is so ready to bestow upon us, undeserving though we be.

Having thought upon all of this, and delighted in the fact that the Lord is so ready to be merciful, slow to anger, and forgive, I think to my own parenting. How quick *I* am to get angry, and show my frustration with my children.  How my words and rebukes are with a heavy sigh of frustration.  How grace vanishes so easily in my frustration with their frequent erring. My heart is sinful, even in my parenting.  When I should be showing grace and mercy, I am showing a quick temper and frustration.  I am hardly being an example of God's mercy to us, in how I deal with my children.  It's not that I should ignore their sin, it's HOW I deal with it.  I need to have more grace and mercy in how I deal with them, and my conscience is pricked.  If I am to be more like the Lord, then I need to have equally abundant grace and mercy when dealing with my own children.  Just as God doesn't overlook our sin, and is certainly willing and quick to forgive and merciful in how He deals with US, then that's how we must be as parents. 

As a wife.... oh how sad that I also show such quickness to anger and frustration in marriage.  Instead of patience and forgiveness, it seems to be so much more easy to be frustrated and short-tempered. I am often humbled and thankful for a husband who shows more patience with me, than I do with him. 

I am so thankful for God's mercy and forgiveness - without it, I would simply be a sinner heading for a lost eternity.  Instead, I am redeemed, saved, KEPT, by God's power and grace, mercy and forgiveness. 

Today, by God's grace and mercy, I will be thankful for all that God shows to me, and endeavour to show the same to those around me. 

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