Editor’s note: As students, we don’t always get to hear staff or teachers’ personal stories of God’s involvement in their lives. Last week, I asked several staff and faculty to share about how they have personally experienced God’s mercy. The following statements were received by email.
Adam Heck, associate professor, Mathematics Department:
“Every time I look in the eyes of my child, I see the reason for God’s mercy. In my teens and twenties, I knew about grace, welcomed it and extended it to others, but I couldn’t quite understand why God would choose to extend grace. What in the world did I have to offer? Then I had two sons. I’ve cleaned up messes, played with them, loved them and disciplined them. For them, grace and mercy is always available, because my love for them is always available. If my imperfect, sin-filled heart can recognize the beauty and value of extending mercy to my children, I can easily see why God can’t help but extend mercy to us.”
Stephen Bauer, professor, School of Religion:
“This January brought the second anniversary of the sudden, untimely death of my son. This journey of grief and loss has tested my faith and challenged my emotions. Recently, I was exposed to the concept of the biblical lament. I was surprised to discover that one-third of the 150 Psalms are classified as psalms of lament, because in Hebrew, the name for the Book of Psalms is ‘Tehillim’ — praises. The fact that one-third of these ‘praises’ are laments suggests that the Psalter recognizes pain and trauma as regular human experiences. My situation is not unique. The psalms of lament always have two thematic dimensions. One dimension is the lament in which the psalmist expresses his fear, pain and even a sense of abandonment by God. Then there is a sudden shift to affirmations of faith and trust in God. Thus, as Bernard Anderson observes, ‘The laments are really expressions of praise, offered in a minor key in the confidence that YHWH is faithful.’ Laments presuppose a trusting, intimate relationship with God, and thus lament and faith are not mutually exclusive. The large number of laments in the Psalter reveal a God who invites me to be honest with my pain and keep lamenting in the context of faith. Lament and faith, faith and lament, working together. What a magnificent, merciful gift from God.”
Kimberly Bobenhausen, director for Planned Giving:
“I see God’s mercy in my life when I find myself regretting the past and fearing the future. As I think back to a difficult time, engulfed in guilt and shame, it is God’s whisper that pierces through, reminding me that while I was still in darkness, He was there with me. While I was struggling against invisible enemies, it was His arm that bore me up. He reminds me that He is here now, and that we walk this life together. I see God’s mercy when I am fearing the chasm of an unknown future. He tells me that just as He holds my past in His hands, He holds my future. What kind of love is this that I am accepted just as I am? Even in this moment, I am damaged, flawed and helpless, and yet here He is. My God is Yahweh, the God of the past, the present and the future.”