One of my favorite psalms is Psalm 103. The psalmist is summarizing all of the benefits of being one of God’s people. He reminds us that God heals our diseases, forgives our sins, and redeems our lives from the pit. Indeed, who among us has not been in a pit and needed redemption?
This seems to be God’s favorite way to operate. Moses killed a man at around age 40 and had to go into hiding to avoid being killed himself by the Egyptians. Did God give up on Moses? Write him off as a murderer? Leave him out tending the sheep for the rest of his life because he wasn’t deemed worthy to do anything worthwhile? No. Just the opposite. After letting Moses cool down for 40 more years, God called him to be the leader of the Israelite children as they headed to the promised land. God used his tremendous education and intellect to give the law to the Israelites as they became a people in their own right after living in slavery for 400 years.
The Apostle Peter is another good example. When the chips were down, Peter denied even knowing his Lord three times. Did God decide Peter wasn’t fit to be a disciple? Did he say that Peter could never play a major role in the church because of his unfaithfulness? Again, no. After Peter confessed and repented, and waited on God to be baptized with fire by the Holy Spirit, unlearned Peter began to preach powerful sermons, be the channel through which God healed people with incurable diseases, and lead the early church. Indeed, Jesus even told Peter he was giving him the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
God is the God of second chances (and third, fourth, fifth and beyond). We all need those from time to time, and we are grateful and relieved when the mercy of God extends to us.
But what if it extends to someone else? Someone we have decided has messed up and should be shut out from high office or great responsibility? Are we willing for God’s mercy to extend to that person? And are we willing to pray for God’s mercy to extend to someone who has stumbled as did Moses and Peter? Or, is one strike, you’re out our rule?
People do change. Moses did and Peter did. Other people can as well. Sometimes when I don’t know if someone in the limelight is guilty or not, I like to pray for God’s mercy and redemption for that person. It brings me comfort to know God can bring good out of evil and can convert a train wreck into a blessing. It relieves me of having to worry about the person’s guilt or innocence - that’s up to God. I just pray for God’s highest and best - redemption and mercy. The psalmist reminds us that it’s one of God’s benefits, so I am simply asking God to be true to who he is. I believe it’s a prayer he loves to answer.