Deserving his wrath yet covered by his mercy

When we forget who God is, we forget who we are too.

May 22nd, 2011. I was a freshman in high school and it was an average sunny Sunday afternoon. My family and I were out shopping at Academy for new running shoes for the start of the cross country season. All of a sudden, tornado sirens start blaring and employees begin shouting to immediately take shelter in the bathrooms. In a moment, my mom, sisters, and I were huddled in a stall around a toilet. It was dark and my mom was praying loudly. Then she stopped and it was quiet. 

My dad came and told us it was time to go. But when we walked out of the dark bathroom, the darkness didn’t end. Academy was gone. Only a pile of mangled debris of what used to be remained. To our horror, this destruction didn’t end at Academy but instead lasted miles throughout the city of Joplin. 

When reading the book of Micah, God’s wrath is hard to deny. It reminds me of the power of a tornado and the destruction it can leave behind. Almighty God. Powerful Judge. Sovereign. He holds the power to destroy everything in an instant. He can melt mountains, split valleys, & turn cities into heaps of rubble (Mic. 1:4,6) However, his anger isn’t random like a tornado, but instead it is justified and righteous. He hates sin, injustice, rebellion, and idolatry.

And we are mortal men. We deserve death and destruction, not one of us is righteous, not a single one (Rom. 3:10). Utterly doomed because we are bent toward sin, injustice, rebellion, idolatry.

But just as God’s wrath is real, so is His mercy. His unquenchable wrath is matched only by His overflowing mercy. Micah 7:18 says God will not stay angry forever but will pardon our sins. The sun will shine after the storm. He delights to show mercy and hurls our sins into the depths of the seas. Even in the Old Testament, prior to Jesus defeating death, God offers the promise of a covenant relationship with him. He invites us into a relationship with Him. He calls us His people and invites us to call Him our God. He offers us protection from the winds of His wrath. 

Even more so, now that Jesus stands in the gap, we are welcomed in to live in a restored relationship with God. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). God’s mercy is incomprehensible. He sent His Son to a fallen and broken world, deserving of punishment- not to condemn it, but instead to save it. Jesus is our shelter from the storm. 

But what does this great God, more powerful than the strongest winds but abundantly rich in mercy, require of me, mortal man, in this restored relationship? He calls me to follow his example- to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8). It seems simple, it’s not a long list, but it’s a challenging enough command to fill a lifetime of work. It’s a constant battle of flesh and spirit.

How do we defeat the flesh and its selfish desires? By remembering. Remembering that we deserve to be destroyed by the winds of God’s rage but instead He offers us the shelter of His mercy. And we walk humbly with Him in that truth. When we forget who God is, we forget who we are too. We forget that we are not sovereign, but instead are desperately in need of a Savior. 

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