God’s Surprising Mercy

When the Lord led his people through a hot, dry desert, they did not suffer from thirst. He made water come from a rock for them; he split the rock open, and water flowed out. Isaiah 48:21

Isaiah said the people didn’t suffer from thirst. That doesn’t mean they weren’t thirsty. In fact, the complained about it to Moses. I don’t blame them for complaining. They were in a desert. Who would have expected water to come from solid rock? But God, in his mercy, is full of surprises. I can’t imagine how those people felt—but I have a slight inkling.

Four days after I got my driver’s license at the tender age of 17, I asked permission to take the family car for a drive. My dad, who was a pretty tough disciplinarian, agreed on one condition. “Don’t go to Perth Amboy,” he said. “You don’t have enough experience for city driving.”

I agreed, then drove straight to Perth Amboy. I stopped at the stop sign—I really did—then proceeded to plow into the side of another car. Luckily, no one was hurt. Moments later, when the police arrived, they thought I was hurt because I was crying hysterically. “My dad’s going to kill me,” I wailed, tears streaming down my cheeks. Mercifully, the cop didn’t give me a ticket.

Even so, I drove home filled with remorse and dreading my dad’s reaction. When I got home, I confessed and braced for a barrage of anger, blame, and punishment.
Dad looked at me tenderly. “Metal can be replaced,” he said. That was it. Wow. Love and mercy was the last thing I expected. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I was for forgiveness. I was too busy panicking that I’d never get it.

No tirade, no punishment could have made me more willing to change my defiance and live up to my dad’s love.

The power of love is life-giving—and sometimes it flows from the unlikeliest sources.

Prayer: God of power and love, help us trust your merciful providence.

Reflection: When has sustenance—material or otherwise—come to you from an unexpected source?

Copyright 2018, Barbara Hosbach

Barbara Hosbach

Barbara Hosbach

Barbara Hosbach, freelance writer, is co-chair of the CJ Chapter of the Catholic Writers Guild and member of the Catholic Press Association. Hosbach’s articles have appeared in a number of Catholic periodicals. Her latest book, Your Faith Has Made You Well: Jesus Heals in the New Testament, explores what happened when Jesus healed and what it means for us today. Your Faith Has Made You Well: Jesus Heals in the New Testament and Fools, Liars, Cheaters, and Other Bible Heroes

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