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Mercy in the Midst

As this year’s holiday season winds down, I delight in the lights on our three small artificial Christmas trees. The two 4-footers dressed in white miniature lights and the 2-foot tree with its blue lights, add a warmth to our home in these brief weeks. From the time I wake in the morning until I go to bed at night, I keep the lights on. Their brilliant glow contrasts with the dark green of the pine branches.

Bright spots. Our eyes are drawn, and our spirits are warmed by them.

As the last few hours of 2021 tick by, I reflect on the bright spots of my personal journey in the past year. A visit in April to see a new grandchild—the first grandson—holding him and singing him to sleep. As the weather warmed, times at Lake Michigan, walking near the shore or sitting on a bluff enjoying the lake's natural beauty. In late summer, hours with my mom during her last days, talking in her wakeful moments or quietly singing when she was in a deep sleep. In the fall, another trip to see the grandchildren and pretend play with my two granddaughters and tell them stories. Throughout the year, times with family and friends, sharing our lives, laughing together, and praying about concerns. And the many days God used His Word to pour hope and peace into my heart.

In between the bright spots, dark moments poked through. Illness, separation from loved ones, health problems, losses, pain. But the bright spots shine on.

As I listened to Psalm 136 today, I considered that even in the dark, pokey places, bright spots exist, and we can see them by faith. God’s mercy is there all the time.

You may recall that Psalm 136, consisting of 26 verses, ends each verse with the phrase, “for his mercy endureth forever.” The first part of each verse is either an injunction to give thanks to God or a statement of what He has done for His people. In the middle of the chapter, in verse 14, is the statement, speaking of God, “And made Israel to pass through the midst of it.”* ‘It’ refers to the Red Sea. It was there that God did a miracle. God’s mercy was on His people while they were in the middle of one of their most challenging trials.

The Red Sea could represent an impossible situation, something we cannot face on our own, but that which God will take us through. There is mercy in the midst of challenges, difficulties, and trials. The mercy is He does not leave us there--we are merely passing through. Another mercy is His presence--no small promise. His mercies are numerous and new every morning.

When you see a lighted Christmas tree, let the lights remind you of bright spots. Let them remind you of mercy in the midst of the most difficult of days. Let them encourage your heart as you step foot into another year and into what is unknown to you but fully known to God.

*And made Israel to pass through the midst of it: for his mercy endureth forever: Psalm 136:14 KJV

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