Kids play a game called Mercy.
One kid inflicts pain on another till she cries "mercy!!" Game over. Ohhh, but to be the one who doesn't cry out. Now that's the stuff playground legends are made of! My folks never liked my sisters and me to play Mercy; they saw the thick line distinguishing childish frivolity from absurdity.
The wisdom of the years my parents possessed, knowledge of this game’s inevitable anguish, is why adults don't play Mercy. Or do we?
I’m pretty sure we do. We play games with pain. We taunt it. With one breath we claim, I can handle you! Only to find the pain is so bad we can’t catch our next breath. At any time we could say the word and be free from pain's abusive clutch. Why then do we cry "more!" rather than "mercy!"?
Because the pain morphs into its own sedative, luring us into a false familiar. It becomes part of our identity. We fool ourselves: enduring this pain makes me legendary with others, right? They admire my tenacity and strength to withstand. Anyhow, it’s my lot in life, so I may as well own it.
No; that's deception. It's settling "into a false belief that says, 'So this is it. This is the life Jesus spoke about'" (Stephen Smith, The Lazarus Life). This notion sustains pain and gives it a voice. Pain touts, “God can't won't doesn't fill that hole like I do. Stay….we’re good together. All you’ve suffered will be forgotten by others if you heal. I am safer than healing. Stay in our bed of tears.”
Seasons set aside to mourn are good and natural. They are….Ecclesiastes 3. But they’re just that: seasons. Not lifetimes. Letting go of the familiar pain can be scary. But we don’t go it alone. “Ultimately it is not up to us to 'self-help' our way out of the darkness. God is the one who delivers. Fear does not emanate from God. It comes from a trembling heart, a shaking soul. Fear is birthed in darkened tombs where we imagine the worst. It is then nourished in secrets, lies and half-truths" (Smith).
Y’all, I don’t want to stay in that shaking, dark, fake tomb. Do you? David said in 1 Chronicles 21, "I will not give to the Lord that which costs me nothing." The price tag of crying mercy is high: comfort, familiarity, self pity, pride...
So much more is given in return though: peace, comfort, joy. As a little girl, I would run to my parents when the game of pain hurt too much. And just like them, our Papa is waiting with healing in His hands. Rest assured, crying mercy isn’t equivalent to ripping off a band-aid. Healing is a process and He’s a gentle healer. The first step is simply to cry “mercy!”
I've had enough of this game...how about you?
He will deliver us. ~2 Corinthians 1:9