Reading: Psalm 86
Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me (NIV).
Late evening sun on Lake Ontario — photo by David Kitz
Living or working with an angry person can be extremely difficult. You can never tell what might trigger an angry reaction. You can be going about your normal routine and suddenly something will set them off. Next thing you know you are getting the full brunt of their fury for something done in complete innocence or for which you bear no responsibility. Life is full of stress. No one likes being around someone who gives full vent to their unchecked anger.
Unfortunately, many Christians live their lives as though God has anger management issues. They are convinced that at any moment God may smite them for some minor misstep or indiscretion. The truth is God is far more patient and compassionate than we realize. Here in Psalm 86 David reminds us that the LORD is slow to anger. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
If you want a short one sentence description of God, here it is. It is well worth repeating. But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Take that sentence and memorize it, repeat it and meditate on it. This is the essence of God. He oozes compassion for the broken and hurting. The LORD is gracious. He shows favor—undeserved grace—to His people. He is slow to anger. He is more than patient with us. He knows that all too often we are slow to learn the ways of God. But despite that, He abounds in love. There is an ocean full of God’s love, when we imagine there’s only a thimble full. Finally, the LORD is faithful. He sticks with us through thick and thin. In a changing world, God and His faithfulness remain constant.
Does your picture of God need to change? It may be time to switch that picture of an angry God for a picture of the God of compassion and grace—compassion and grace for yourself and for others. His love is bigger than our shortcomings.
Response: LORD God, I want to see you as you are, full of compassion and grace. Help me to show compassion and mercy to others. I want to meditate on your word so that I can know you as you truly are. Amen.
Your Turn: Do you believe God is angry with you? What characteristic of God do you love most?