Friday, January 31, 2014

Mercy Through the Consequences

The Hunger Games is one of my very favorite series.  I love the plot twists and the gut-wrenching emotion!  And I'm not just talking about the movies here, I read the books!  :)

I'm going to use Katniss as an illustration but I'll do my best to stick with the first two books so that I don't spoil anything for those who are just watching the movies.  However - if you haven't seen the latest movie or read the second book, proceed with caution - *spoiler alert* - feel free to skip ahead to where the Scripture (the italicized portion) begins if this is you.  

After volunteering to take Prim's place in the games, Katniss made a few decisions in the arena, bold moves meant to protect herself and Peeta, something she thought only affected the two of them.  After arriving back home, she began to live life as normal - putting those actions and thoughts in her past (as much as she could anyhow).  Little did she know, those heat-of-the-moment choices she made would continue to affect her life, in so many ways in years to come.  Not only is her own life threatened but those of her family and friends.  She does everything in her power to make amends but to no avail.  Her past continues to haunt her.  Her home town is even destroyed!  

The result of the choices of Katniss are much like the choice to sin in our own lives.  (Just to clarify, I'm not saying that her choices were sin - simply comparing the effects is all.)  When we sin, we are making a choice in the heat-of-the-moment because we are thinking only of our flesh.  Days, months, or even years later - that choice is behind us, left in the past.  In fact, we may have already sought and received forgiveness from the Lord.  But suddenly, that sin comes back to haunt us.  Someone reminds us of what we've done (like President Snow), we find that another person was indirectly affected by our choices (Prim, Cinna, etc.), the result of what we did finally catches up with us (her 2nd time back in the arena).  Sin, much like President Snow, is hard to shake.  But we can have full confidence in our Lord that He will be there with mercy and compassion, to deliver us.

Psalm 40:11-13  
11 You, O Lord, will not withhold Your compassion from me; 
 Your lovingkindness and Your truth will continually preserve me.
12 For evils beyond number have surrounded me;
My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see;
They are more numerous than the hairs of my head,
And my heart has failed me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me.

David is the assumed author of this Psalm.  He was no where near perfect (yet God still used him in a big way - don't you love that?).  When I first read this passage, I thought to myself - I feel like this so very often.  I can barely keep my head above water with all that life is throwing my way.  Yet, this really isn't about what life threw his way.  The evils David is speaking about are a result of the iniquities, or sins of his own past, of his own choices.  You see, sins can take hold of us, "as an officer takes hold of a man her arrests" (Wesley).

Sometimes we can't see past our own consequences.  Just because we are forgiven, does not mean that consequences don't happen.  We sin and because of that sin other things happen.  For the alcoholic, it is broken relationships that continue to haunt.  For the thief, it is the time spent in jail.  For the murderer, it is death row. For the adulterer, it is the loss of a marriage. 

Yes, we still have to deal with the consequences, BUT, God will not withhold his compassion and mercy!  

Despite his situation, despite the fact that "every calamity that held him in its grip was a child of a sin of his," David still had confidence in God (The Expositor's).  He knew that the Lord's compassion and lovingkindness were waiting there for him to grab a hold of.  And so he prayed for the Lord to help him, deliver him, and fast!   

God is always there waiting for us to turn to Him. He knows our sins will creep up on us.  He knows that sin doesn't just damage just one area of our lives or even just us.  The effect of sin is far reaching.  His forgiveness rids us of the burden, saves us from eternal death and damnation.  His mercy will help us through the consequences.  How truly amazing is that!?! 

So the next time you find yourself surrounded by evils that are a result of your iniquities, remain confident in the Lord's compassion and cry out to Him,

Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
Make haste, O Lord, to help me. 

And He shall....

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