Thursday, August 2, 2007

Our Merciful Heavenly Father

God is so incredibly merciful. Have you ever really thought about that? I mean REALLY examined the numerous circumstances in your own life, where things could have gone a different way, or been much worse - but they weren't? I assure you dear reader, that is no coincidence.

After the recent scare here in Southern Ontario when Jesse Imeson murdered three people then ran - there have been more than a few discussions with friends about this. Much prayer, much discussion, and much encouragement.

One of the aspects that had been discussed was God's mercy. It had already been mentioned that God was merciful in that more people hadn't been hurt. I mean, if a man has it in him to kill another man, then kill two more innocent people simply because he wanted their vehicle (and it appears that is the only reason he did it), then what's to stop him from killing someone else because he wanted their wallet, or something else? Truth be told I'm a firm believer that the only thing stopping him was God's mercy.

Since he was captured Tuesday night 600 kilometers from the last crime scene, there have been several news articles to come out, each one containing just a little bit more information than the last one. From what I can piece together, he'd been in the area where he was caught for at least a couple of days - maybe longer. The way he was caught, was rather striking. He'd hid the stolen truck well off the beaten path and a hiker "happened" upon it. Whether the hiker realized it was the same truck that law enforcement was looking for or not, I do not know - but they did find it suspicious enough based on where it was, that they phoned the police. Of course as soon as the police arrived they knew it was the stolen truck from the last crime scene, and they were on alert that their suspect was likely still in the general area.

Just a few hours later, a man who's neighbor "happened" to be on vacation, thought he saw or heard something in his neighbor's house. He knew that there shouldn't have been anyone there, since the man was on vacation. Clearly, the suspect had broken into to the house, likely looking for food, cash, maybe even access to another vehicle. The one neighbor notified another, and the police were called but the suspect took off into the woods. It didn't take police long at all (with helicopters & all sorts of law enforcement personel on site) to capture him. Reports are saying he still had the stolen weapons with him, that he used to kill the couple 600 kilometers to the west.

Many people will not be able to see God's hand ALL over this. All they will see is their pain and anger that the crimes were comitted in the first place. All they will feel is their broken hearts that someone they loved dearly was taken out of this world in a most brutal way by a most vicious man. All of that is in fact, understandable. There is much injustice and violence in our world, and it hurts, and hurts deeply when it affects you first hand.

But there is another side of this that people must see. A side that is so obvious, and yet has to be pointed out because often anger and pain blind us to the goodness of God.

1. The hiker that found the stolen truck. We cannot know what could have happened if the armed suspect was actually IN the truck when the hiker showed up. By God's mercy, that didn't happen.

2. The homeowner who's house was broken into by the suspect. Mere happenstance he was on vacation that very day? Nope, not at all. Summertime is of course vacation time for a lot of people but the timing of the homeowner (and family, if there is one, the news articles haven't said much about that) not being there when this murderer broke in, was directly in God's hand. The last home he broke into he tied up the elderly couple and shot them. God's mercy prevented that from happening again.

3. The weapons the suspect stole at another crime scene. He still had them with him when he was apprehended. He was considered armed and extremely dangerous and yet, no shots were fired and no one was hurt when he was located. If you know any police officers, you already know that an armed suspect wanted for a violent crime is absolutely not someone they want to be approaching, because they never know if he'll open fire. Yet, by God's abundant mercy, no shots were fired and he was apprehended without incident.

4. Reports are somewhat sketchy on this last one but in the general area where he was finally caught, there were reports in the preceding few days of other home break-ins where things were stolen. This is in an area that doesn't generally have this time of crime. Was it him? Police seem to think it was, and how interesting it is that if it was in fact him - that not one person was home when he did this, and no one else was hurt?

I can't begin to imagine what it would feel like to find out my parents, or my brother, or son, was murdered. The death of a loved one is hard enough as it is, but I can only guess how much more painful it must be to realize that death was intentional, and at the hands of another person. It's very difficult for most people to understand why God allows, or ordains such things to come to pass. Much has been written on this to try and help people understand the sinful nature of man and why things happen the way they do.

With all of that said, I think it's very important for us as believers, to look at these things from a wider perspective and see God's grace and mercy. See all the things He didn't allow to happen, and see how He was not ignorant of the situation but there all the time. The same can be said for the tragic bridge collapse that just happened in Minneapolis yesterday. It could have been so much worse than it was, and yet in what seems like a genuine miracle, more people did not lose thier lives last night. You might like to read this timely post from John Piper, as he tried to explain to his daughter why things happen the way they do.

I believe it's an accurate thing to say, that no matter what we go through in this life, it could have been much worse, were it not for God's mercy.

That's truly something to be praising Him for.