Once again, I was struck with the realization that what I call punishment God calls mercy. It has to do with the motivation of punishment. If you are a parent and you punish your child with the motivation being the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment but you call it mercy. If your motivation is not the child’s best interests, the child calls it punishment and I call it abuse.
God does not abuse His children!
Isaiah 57:14-21 gives us one of the most beautiful and poetic pictures of God’s mercy to the repentant and contrite of heart.
“I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit.” (57:15)
“I have seen his ways, and will heal him; I will also lead him…” (57:18)
I will “restore comforts to him and to his mourners.” (57:18) *What a great promise for those of you that are praying for a backslidden loved one.
These verses are beautiful and their promises overflow with the hope of anyone who has ever fallen and stood back up. God forgives! I was encouraged as I read these words today, but then my eyes fell on the final verses of the chapter.
“But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.” (57:20-21)
I read that and call it punishment, until I understand His motive. There is no peace for the wicked, no peace in this world outside of Him. The purpose of the punishment is to direct us back to Him. I call that mercy.