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Be thankful for the merciful Lord

Posted: November 26, 2014 - 12:03am

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits... He is compassionate, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy... He does not treat us as our sins deserve.”

– from Psalm 103

Hardly a Thanksgiving goes by that I don’t recall an incident that happened more than 20 years ago, when I had something to be thankful for I knew I didn’t deserve.

“You’re a real trooper, Barbara, and I don’t mean the kind with the flashing blue lights on top.”

I couldn’t believe this choice of words. Earlier in the week I had completed a rush job for a magazine, and the editor was writing to thank me. I also couldn’t believe his thank-you gift: a $100 bonus, the exact amount of the speeding ticket I received just a few hours before. A trooper, flashing lights and all, had clocked me at 15 mph over the speed limit on Skinner Mill Road.

For as long as I can remember I’ve lived by the verse, “God shall supply all your need...” (Philippians 4:19), but a traffic fine, too?

Though it’s been a long time since that up and down day, I still can’t forget the irony of this experience in supply and demand, or a God who cares that much for His wayward child – and I was wayward. It had been 15 years since I’d had a traffic violation. Still, as the Psalmist said, one of God’s many benefits is being “plenteous in mercy.”

Another of the “benefits is my birth into a family with strong, Christian roots.

Sunday School and worship and a lifestyle that shaped my life more than any competing influence I ever encountered. The stories and verses I learned continue to guide my decisions and calm my fears whenever flashing blue lights appear in my rear-view window. For example:

“My, that’s a big one,” the doctor said of the lump I had discovered in my abdomen a few days before. “We won’t know if it’s cancer until we get in there, but you leave the worrying to us.”

Oh, sure. Even with a strong faith, I knew cancer was no discriminator of persons. Christians die prematurely, too.

When my friend heard the news, she quoted John 11:4: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God.” Knowing those were the words Jesus spoke before He raised Lazarus from the dead, I wasn’t sure they would apply to me.

Still, I clung to the hope that they would. Six weeks later my benign tumor was removed and I’ve been tumor-free ever since.

Sometimes God’s benefits have been displayed when my behavior needed surgery, like the time I wrestled with a choice between what I knew to be right, and what I wanted to do anyway.

My thoughts were on that decision, and not on the bell-bottom trousers I wore as I descended the staircase in my home. Halfway down, one foot became caught in the other cuff and I started to fall. Thankfully, I was able to grab the railing just as these words came to mind: “Unto Him who is able to keep you from falling, and present you faultless before His presence with exceeding joy...(Jude 24).

I don’t know why God took care of my fine, spared my body from cancer or a fall when others succumb to circumstances every day. I don’t know why his mercy can be so plenteous or his grace so amazing and undeserved.

The only answer I can think of is that God’s benefits do not depend on how good his children are, but on how merciful He is.

BARBARA SEABORN IS A LOCAL, FREE-LANCE WRITER, AND AUTHOR OF THE BOOK, AS LONG AS THE RIVERS RUN: HIGHLIGHTS FROM COLUMBIA COUNTY’S PAST. E-MAIL COMMENTS TO SEABARA@AOL.COM.

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