Severe Mercy

The wife of a friend of mine in Seattle recently used the term "Severe Mercy" in an exchange that our family was having with theirs. It is a term that relates to the extremes that Jesus will go to in order to pursue a relationship with his people.

In the scope of my family which has seen a sequence of brushes, and now collisions, with death, the idea is even more real to me. If God should cause my uncle to get cancer that sounds like an evil god. Unless it is truly a severe mercy. If such an episode with cancer should be the only thing that would cause my uncle to stop running from a relationship with Christ, and if such a relationship saves you from eternal separation from God, then even if the cancer should kill you, it is a severe mercy. Despite what a purely human perspective might suggest, cancer might be the best thing that ever could have happened to you.

If the impact and subsequent change should furthermore ripple through a family, an extended family, a social network, and a culture, then suddenly it seems different. In the midst of all of this pain, we see an incredible awakening to the person and work of Jesus in our extended family that 10 years ago was open hostility. The fact that God would have to drag us through this in order to open our eyes to him is a severe mercy. Although it sucks to get cancer it would suck far more to die apart from Christ. It all feels painfully real though. It makes me hate sin and wish it could all be accomplished a different way. I'm, of course, not the first one to express such a sentiment.

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