The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
The Lord’s grace and mercy is most fully understood in His eternal love (“hesed,” or “steadfast love” as it is translated in the English) expressed in His eternal covenant unto Mankind: that “what God hath required, God hath provided (Augustine).” Jesus Christ came, even according to Mary in her Magnificat, her song of praise, because He remembered that covenant to His people:
“He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors,to Abraham and to his descendants for ever” (Luke 1:54,55 NRSV).
The Psalmist reminds us that the blessing of the Lord proceeds from heaven to not only His people, but also to the entire world—”over all that He has made.” Therefore, the divinely inspired composter of Psalm 145 anticipates the New Heaven and the New Earth: the liberation of all of Creation from the bondage of sin:
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:20-23 ESV).
O, what a glorious vision we are given! The sun that spreads its golden glow over the fields of thistles and thorns announces, even this morning, that there is a flowering time already on its way! The aching of my body is but the afflicting manifestation of original sin and, in the redemption wrought by Christ Jesus, has become an unwitting chorister in the wondrous hymn of praise to the coming King who will transform this failing vessel!
Let this hope be in you this day. This Christ-centered hope transforms us from the inside out, touching our spirit, our mind, our relationships, and our vocations. Thus, even though flames of martyrdom lick violently at our feet, we may say, “The Lord is gracious and merciful,” as so many of our mothers and fathers in Christ have done, and do so cry in our time.