Posts Tagged ‘mercy


not good at being happy with the happy people

That may be a slightly odd title for a blog entry, but there is a point to it. I have a confession to make: I’m much better at weeping with those who are weeping than being happy with those who are happy (Romans 12:15)!

I’ve read several books about the problem of pain and suffering, my favorite being Philip Yancey’s Where Is God When It Hurts that I just finished re-reading, and I know from those books and from my work as a discipleship trainer and counselor that most people struggle with the opposite problem: they don’t know how to mourn with those who are mourning or weep with those who are weeping!

I do feel a bit out of place in this world when it comes to this issue. I really don’t have problems spending time with or talking to friend or foe who is struggling. I have a natural, God-given desire to be there for those people whether they’re looking for long-term communication and relationship or just a hand as they pass through my life. I enjoy conversations about the difficult, complicated questions of life. And quite frankly, I simply don’t know what to do with people where everything is going great…

I have found many people in my life who don’t know what to do with me when I share from the bottom of my heart. My heart and my mind is filled with much confusion and much messiness. That is troubling to many people. They want my problems and questions to be gone, so they don’t have to be bothered by them any more. If we’re honest, that’s most often the reason why we want people to stop hurting in front of us: for the sake of our own peace of mind!

But again, this blog entry is about my own issues, and again, I just don’t know how to be around and have relationship with people where seemingly everything is going the way they want, or they are just very untroubled by the things that are not. I don’t know what to say. I can’t get rid of a nagging thought in the back of my mind suggesting that they’re probably not telling the whole truth….Surely they must be struggling with something! But obviously I don’t know, and it’s not my call to determine whether people are just living in escapism and denial of reality, or if they are just plain, old school happy with their lives. I don’t get anywhere making those judgments.

So, what do I do? How do I learn to be happy with the happy people and rejoice with those who are rejoicing? How can I learn?

I would love to be able to do both. Few people know how to be sad with the sad and cheerful with the cheerful. It’s a very difficult thing to do, apparently. Most people I’ve met swing one way or the other. How do I learn to live in the middle where I believe Christ lives?

I know that Jesus has been teaching me about mercy these past several years. I have learned to not automatically assume that people are terrible, just because they make terrible choices. I have learned to have compassion and understand that people have reasons for what they are doing, even if I don’t agree with them.

So I know Jesus can teach me how to be happy with the happy people. I just don’t know how at this point.

Any thoughts from any of you out there?

Blessings, Torben


The word of the year: MERCY!

Today is the first day of the year of 2010. A new decade has begun. The last few days I’ve been thinking about what one word I’ve been learning the most about in the year that just passed. My word of the year is slightly different than the word ‘unfriend‘ which New Oxford American Dictionary decided on as word of the year 2009! It was pretty easy to find out. It has been all over the place throughout the year. It’s a difficult concept to grasp. I’m not very good at it. I’ve been mocking it most of my life. Seen it as weakness. God has challenged me this year with the ancient idea of mercy. Mercy, according to my dictionary, is:

Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm

I’ve learned a lot about seeing that there are more nuances on the palette of life than the black and white that I’m so comfortable with. I’ve learnt a lot about another word closely related to mercy, it’s the word well-meant. People generally mean well when they make their decisions. Even when they make horrendous ones that have terrible consequences. And in the many day to day decisions people make that can irritate me, I am learning to assume that they meant well when they did it. They didn’t do it because they wanted to ruin their lives (or annoy me!). They did it because they thought, however misguided they may be, that it was the best choice available to them. Sure, we all often make decisions based on our wounds and the flesh patterns we’ve developed because of those wounds on our souls. But we typically don’t set out intending to ruin our lives.

Mercy understands this. Mercy understands that we all make mistakes. Some of us make many. Mercy understands that even people who disagree with me or who choose to prioritize very differently from what I prefer, are people who are loved by God and whom I’m called to love. Mercy understands. Mercy forgives. Mercy gives another chance. Mercy assumes the best even when evidence seems to suggest that people will never change. Mercy is aware of the fact that all people can change. Because there is a God. And he can change the hearts of anybody.

I have also learned some about having mercy on myself. The dictionary definition talks about power. And it’s within my power to give myself a hard time when I make poor choices. I may even feel that justice is served when I hate myself or reject myself. Henri Nouwen reminds me that: “Self-rejection is the single greatest enemy of spiritual life, because it contradicts the voice that calls us the Beloved“, and I don’t want to live in self-rejection. I wan to have mercy on myself too.

I am excited to see what this new year holds. And I’m looking forward to taking more steps down the path of mercy. I need it. I need more healing of my soul. I am thankful that God’s mercy towards me is guaranteed:

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16)

I wonder what word of the year 2010 will hold for me?

Blessings, Torben


Mercy ministry

I am a discipleship trainer, and I thoroughly enjoy working with discipleship training and try to help people get to know God and themselves better and experience more of the freedom, life and joy that Christ has won for all his children. Mercy ministries, on the other hand, is not my strongest point. I am a big picture thinker, and sometimes I find myself thinking about mercy ministry. Sure you can help one person, but what about the other 100,000 with the same problems? (I don’t like admitting that I think like this from time to time, but I do)

I realize that Jesus had and has a different perspective than I do. He told us to love our neighbor, and throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus wasn’t afraid to “waste his time” with just one person instead of focusing more on the big crowds (obviously he also spoke to the big crowds, but he spent a lot of time with individuals throughout his ministry years). Jesus showed a heart of compassion to women, children, and sick and disabled people whom most other men didn’t give the time of the day. And throughout the Old Testament as well we see God calling his people over and over again to care for widows, orphans, children, foreigners, ets. All the outcasts of society have special priority for God. “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6) and “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) are just two of the Scriptures talking about God’s view of mercy.

I thoroughly respect all you people all over the world who work in mercy ministries, children ministry and work with old people. Often times people don’t recognize what you’re doing. Often times you don’t get much praise or press. You’re not the ones writing the bestsellers or getting the well-paid speaking arrangements. But you serve faithfully. You show God’s love. One person at a time. You hold the babies, put a band-aid on a kid’s knee, talk to the troubled teenager, comfort the woman who just had an abortion and sing a last song for a dying, old lady in a hospice. And your Father in heaven honors all of it and rejoices in you showing his mercy and compassion for all people! 

And you teach the rest of us to love the least of these. Statistics for orphans in Ukraine say that 70% of the guys who grow up in orphanages don’t find permanent work, and 60% of the orphan girls end up in prostitution, and 10% of all orphans commit suicide before they reach their 18th birthday. I hear statistics like that and get hugely discouraged. Friends of mine from YWAM Kyiv’s ministry, Key of Hope, hear the same statistics and decide to be God’s hands and feet for these orphans. Through hugs, talks, games, different practical help and the occasional opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ directly through words they love these kids and teenagers and show them compassion, mercy, joy, life, and provide a sense of hope that nobody else gives them. Through what Key of Hope, and countless other mercy ministry workers do every day the kingdom of God is advancing. One person, one changed life at a time.

Torben – who enjoys how we can learn from each other in the body of Christ!

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