On Mercy

By Stephen and Karis Rigby on April 28, 2020

The Coronavirus pandemic is bringing the world to its knees. There is so much obvious need for mercy right now. And yet this very obvious and great worldwide need for mercy also points to a thousand different ways our hearts are always in need of His Mercy.

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“Lord, have mercy”

“He does, Karis.”

“I knew you were going to say that…”

This was part of an ongoing dialogue with my husband Stephen the other night – not the first time we have had this conversation.

When does your heart cry out for mercy? When you hear of awful disasters or experience intense suffering? When someone abruptly cuts you off for a parking space or your child has a near miss-accident? Or when you encounter again the brokenness of our world, through work, ministry, and your own heart? Yes, YES, YES. All of the above for me. Though I confess, when I have a heart cry for mercy, what I desire most is rescue from the uncomfortable circumstance. God, give me reprieve from this, give me a break, and please, a little side of easy with that, too.

Have mercy! . . . He does. By God’s mercy, I celebrate being his child for 30 years. And yet, at times, the lessons I am learning seem elementary. But isn’t that the truth? We never outgrow the gospel. It’s the basic truths I need to remind myself of daily, morning and night, moment by moment. So, where is God’s mercy in the daily moments? The hard news from a friend, the difficult work situation, the daily grind of parenting (for us) little kids? 

The mercy of sad news (probably one of the spaces I struggle with the most) is that it keeps me compassionate. It reminds me that I rarely know the full story going on in other people’s lives, the hurts they bear, the brokenness they encounter. 

When I get a glimpse through the window into someone’s life and my heart breaks again, it reminds me of how Jesus, while he healed and brought a lot of restoration, allowed himself to be broken as well. (Think Lazarus and his raging against death at his grave.) Jesus never nullifies or discounts our suffering, rather he, knowing more than any of us how it should be, enters in, and mourns. Even though he knows that death does not have the final say. 

And so for me, the mercy of allowing the brokenness of the world to permeate my soul and weigh heavily on my heart, keeps me clinging to Jesus and the hope of ultimate restoration. 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” 

Matt 11:28-30

The mercy of ministry work being hard is the gift of humility! Again and again Stephen and myself find ourselves invited into dying to ourselves so that we may learn to love and serve others well. 

As Paul Miller writes in J-Curve, “Like Jesus, I get to experience a death followed by a resurrection. The two are inextricably intertwined.”  While I would choose things going “my way” every day of the week, Jesus, in his mercy, interrupts my agenda and invites me to take up my cross. And in dying to what I wanted or hoped for, I get to rise again, in the humility that Christ models for us.  

Jesus richly invites me that the true way up is down – but this is often uncomfortable and hard and takes a lot of effort – resulting in “Have mercy!”  And he does. He doesn’t leave us on our own.

How are you experiencing his mercy in your life? Does it seem sweet or severe? Is it blatant or seemingly tucked away? Or all of the above? Yes, YES, YES for me, too. And for our family. Only by slowing down can we see His tender fingerprints in our lives.

Please continue to pray for us to have wisdom with all the work that God has called us to do. We want to be faithful and yet acknowledge our finiteness. We seek to be intentional with how we spend our time and love those around us and in seeing God’s mercy in our lives each day. 

Much love from Nairobi – Karis and Stephen

Stephen and Karis Rigby

About Stephen and Karis Rigby

Stephen and Karis Rigby are Serge team leaders in Nairobi, Kenya. Karis leads the apprenticeship program and mentors young adults, while Stephen leads Ambassadors Football Kenya, an organization helping to transform their community through local soccer (football) outreach.