New Mercies

Mercy is there. New every morning. Just look.

Sometimes I prefer the King James Version, especially for these verses. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: Great is Thy Faithfulness.”

Thanksgiving will be different this year. A January 2022 idea to expand our sunporch and to add a screened porch materialized, but not until October (it is now November)! Construction is moving forward, albeit very slowly. Although timing has seen delays – there is still mercy. NOTHING will be finished by Thanksgiving Day, but my family will gather together nevertheless (with not completely ideal accommodations). Yet we remember the “not so ideal” also happening during the height of Covid-19 when we served soup and ham biscuits in our garage with the doors open on a cold day. Mercy.

Thanksgiving will be remembered differently this year… By God’s grace, my husband and I were home on September 20th when an upstairs water pipe burst and sent water flowing down through the dining room ceiling. Thankfully, we had the ability to hear the rushing water and to mitigate the flow by turning off the main valve, placing buckets, mopping with towels, etc. What interesting timing! We thought we were prepping for the planned renovations to the house, but now we were prepping for the unplanned restoration and repair of the damage to the interior of the house. By some weird timing, the sunporch/screened porch construction project started on October 10th and has since completely overlapped with the water damage repair. Well, if there has to be a major disruption in our lives, best to do it all at once? And, at Thanksgiving time?

Meanwhile, I took a trip to the Outer Banks with some girlfriends right around the time that Hurricane Ian brought winds and rains and flooding and more leaks to the rental house. Dialoguing with the owner felt a lot like our conversations back home with our restoration contractor. And PTSD. Perhaps our being at the rental was a mercy for the owner. Suppose no one had been there? More buckets and mopping, a familiar scenario, but also less damage. Mercy.

A cascade of health issues put another layer of disruption upon everything. Covid finally caught up to my husband and me. This caused a two-week convalescence. Immediately, friends and family brought us food which was so timely, before we even realized how much we were going to need it. Mercy. I also wrestled with a kidney stone issue during this time. But, a last minute cancelation allowed me to get in to see a urologist very quickly. Mercy.

I am grateful for God’s mercies, great and small. On the first “good day” post-Covid, I went on a short road trip with my husband to get the traditional country ham. We figured we had enough energy to accomplish this task and we did. It actually felt good to be in a car and out in the world! Mercy! Our expanding family is fast becoming more focused on the country ham than the traditional turkey, and by God’s grace, we will be together this Thanksgiving to enjoy it. Counting down to ham!

But, the whole point is gathering, not really the ham. Thanksgiving will really be a time of thanksgiving for us. What didn’t kill us made us stronger (you’ve heard that before). We have experienced many mercies and have not had to look too hard to find them. The demolition of the water soaked walls actually gave us a better look at other items that needed fixing. Outdoors we discovered a gas leak that needed to be repaired. A few crawl space issues were discovered as well. Sure I’d like a completed living space, a lot less upheaval in my life, a pain free existence. But, we are not consumed. Mercy!

The biggest of God’s compassions is my husband! He is an exacting site supervisor with a keen knowledge of building and landscaping. He has been actively involved in all the house projects on an hourly basis – overseeing every single contractor and orchestrating every logistic. He himself has even taken up the hammer, the shovel, and other tools as part of the construction crew. Not sure he is totally accepted as a peer contractor, but he is definitely a master of quality control. Yes, he is tied to the site, sometimes likened to a prison, while I have been free to continue my activities without much limitation. This is mercy on steroids. And, I am grateful.

What we’ll remember about this Thanksgiving is the endurance, the perseverance, the love of family, the determination to gather and eat a great meal no matter what, and to watch a project unfold from its center rather than its end. We are not consumed. God’s mercies are clearly seen. I am thankful that God pulled back the veil for me particularly, so I could see this merciful flow.

Psalm 13:5 (KJV) says, “But I have trusted in Thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Thy salvation.” I am not consumed. God’s compassions do not fail. Great is His faithfulness.


Anger is something God obviously feels when He describes Himself in Exodus 34:6: “And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.’ ” Psalm 30:5 says, “For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Anger makes a value judgment, assesses that something is wrong, says “I’m against that,” and actively stands to oppose that thing. Anger is definitely consistent with God’s character. Yet, without the work of the Holy Spirit guiding believers into applying biblical truth to our handling of anger, we will not know how to mercifully enact anger in a God-glorifying manner. We are tempted to vent anger in a harmful way, storming around, slamming doors, yelling, crafting vengeance, and/or implementing retaliatory violence! Or, we are tempted to stuff anger in a harmful way and passively, aggressively make people’s lives miserable including our own. Destruction is guaranteed to follow either way.

There is a constructive way. Ephesians 4:26 says, ” ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Action is called for. Many verses indicate that there is a godly way to handle anger without it leading into sin… God’s Truth gives us the only profound wisdom for allowing anger to inform our responses and actions in a God-honoring manner.

I am currently taking a counseling class entitled “Dynamics of Biblical Change.” My professor, Dr. David Powlison (now deceased), has written a challenging journal article called “The Constructive Displeasure of Mercy” (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Fall 2006). He says that anger has three opposites. The first two are indifference and pleasure. The #3 opposite he calls “the constructive displeasure of mercy.” I see Dr. Powlison’s point is – be angry, yet withhold destructive hostility and simultaneously respond with patience, forgiveness, generosity, and mercy. It seems backwards. But, it is God’s heart. Indeed, the gospel turns so many things upside-down!

The #3 anger opposite (Powlison’s “the constructive displeasure of mercy”) confronts wrong and is pleased to get mercifully messy in the process. The #3 opposite also rescues sufferers and calls wrongdoers to honest accountability. Simultaneously, displeasure can be expressed mercifully. But, how?

To help process this idea, I offer this acronym. MIAWA. Mercy In Anger Without Aggression (it’s easier for me to remember). Inspired by Dr. Powlison, my own version of anger’s #3 opposite force is MIAWA. Mercy in anger without aggression means that, while I hate the wrong that is happening, I will do something about it. My anger is appropriate if I take steps to properly oppose what is evil…

Meanwhile, I’ll be slow to anger as God is, and won’t express anger wrongly. I will see evil clearly in all its aspects, but from God’s point of view. I will longsuffer with difficult people and events. I will be compelled by a different, but divine purpose. Kindness. Honesty. But, no counterattack. I’ll work tediously to solve what is bad, even if it takes a lifetime. In the face of stubborn evils, I’ll choose a merciful path.

Extending mercy while being angry? Extending forgiveness in the face of terribly evil things that get perpetrated on a regular basis on planet earth since Genesis? Seriously? I am sure the answer is yes. For a faithful believer, forgiveness doesn’t mean I’ll ignore or excuse what is wrong. I’ll need to name the evils, out loud at times, silently at other times, prayerfully at still other times. And then, prayerfully wrap those call-outs in God’s redemptive purposes.

Psalm 103:10 gives us the unvarnished Truth about God – “[God] He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” MIAWA is God’s pattern for redeeming what seems unredeemable. MIAWA returns kindness where it is most certainly undeserved. It does not cover up what’s bad and does not pretend all is well. Yet, with a kind heart, it energetically works to redeem the unredeemable.

Adopting a lifestyle of MIAWA (mercy in anger without aggression) cannot be done in our own strength. MIAWA must be supernatural. The Holy Spirit must move us to take action, to sincerely offer to others patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. And without venting or stuffing anger, but by processing it out in prayer. Isaiah 61:1 says, “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

So there’s God’s call. The Spirit alone must provide the dynamic. Now, this is my prayer. Dear God, please help me to express my anger with constructive merciful love, slowly and according to Your timing. Help me to remember what MIAWA means.