In my study of the scriptures a few years ago, I looked up every verse of scripture that had the word “mercy” or the word “mercies” in it. I was interested in discussing the scope of God’s tender mercies—the ways He blesses his children, and the reasons for the multitude of those blessings.
I felt like my immersion in that review of God’s mercies changed my understanding of Him and, consequently, my life. Among other things, I noticed that often the phrases “tender mercies” and “loving kindness” appear together in the scriptures. There is an eternal reason for that. God’s mercies and His perfect, undiluted love flow as a fountain from His divine kindness.
The Lord’s Tender Mercies Have Always Been with Us
In the 25th Psalm, David pleads with the Lord to remember to be as He has always been. The tender mercies and loving kindnesses of God have been a blessing to His children from the days of Adam. “Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old” (Psalm 25:6).
Those mercies will be a shield and a protection to us continually: “Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O LORD; let thy loving kindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:11). And God will not be stingy with those blessings: “Hear me, O LORD; for thy loving kindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies” (Psalm 69:16). Those blessings come from God as the bounty of a banquet table, heaped up and overflowing. They come in multitudes.
The Lord Never Turns His Tender Mercies Away
All of us discover times in our lives when it seems as though God is elsewhere or His phone is off the hook or the service has been interrupted—times when we plead and hope and wait. Those apparent silences may cause us to reflect on our sins and to wonder if we have, by our own iniquities, caused a well-deserved silence in the heavens.
Asaph asks the question for us: “Hath God forgotten to be gracious? Hath he in anger shut up his tender mercies?” (Psalm 77:9). Asaph answers his own question just as we would answer it: “I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me” (Psalms 77:1).
Daniel echoes that witness with these marvelous words: “To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9).
When those dark days come, when life’s experiences conspire to teach useful, painful, almost endless lessons, when we wonder where He is and when, if ever, he will return, then we must remember what we have learned in the course of our lives.
We must “bless the LORD . . . and forget not all his benefits.” For He is the one “who forgiveth all [our] iniquities; who healeth all [our] diseases; Who redeemeth [our] life from destruction; who crowneth [us] with loving kindness and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:2-4).
There will be times in our lives when God will allow us, through our struggles, to grow into something stronger and better than we have been before. But His language as He discusses such events is consistent. He promises that we will never be asked to carry more than we can bear, and that no trial will be of a greater duration than we can endure. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee” (Isaiah 54: 7).
In the 30th Psalm, the promise is made with these words: “For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalms 30:5).
We must recognize and we must believe that “it is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not” (Lamentations 3:22).
We Must Remember His Loving Kindness in Times of Trial
So when the challenges come and when we feel forsaken; when difficulties and despair mount up and appear unconquerable, we must remember those tender mercies—that loving kindness—and turn to Him for help.
When David faced three choices, all of them horrifying, he knew at once what he needed to do. “Let me fall now into the hand of the Lord; for very great are his mercies” (1 Chronicles 21:13). In the account of this same crisis in 2 Samuel 24:14, David changes the pronoun: “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great (emphasis added).”
His mercies are very great. In fact, He is “the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3), and His mercies are always available. We can seek them at any time and under any circumstances—not because we deserve them, but because God loves us: “We do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies” (Daniel 9:18).
We Must Share the Tender Mercies We Experience With Others
When those mercies come, we must remember them and share them. In that spirit, I will share one that came to me.
My wife and I were shopping in Phoenix. We stopped for lunch with some friends before our return home. When we got in the car, it would not start. The key was as useless as water on a summer sidewalk. I had some concerns about the starter—it had been dragging a little that afternoon. Everyone went back into the house but me.
I sat in the car and offered a prayer. I told my Father of my helplessness and of our need to get the car started so we could do what we needed to do and get home to our children in Snowflake.
The thought came to me to hit the starter motor with a hammer. I wasn’t sure I could find the starter, but I went to the house and borrowed a hammer. Then I crawled under the car and hit what I hoped was the correct piece of equipment a couple of times.
When I got back in the car and turned the key, the car started and ran perfectly. It was certainly a blessing I did not deserve, but “we do not present our supplications before [the Lord] for our righteousnesses, but for [his] great mercies” (Daniel 9:18).
The author of the 89th Psalm wrote of his conviction, which ought to mirror our own: “I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 89:1). I pray that we will feel like singing of His mercies all the time.