‘Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.Matthew 5:7
By Rev. Jeremy W Scott
I want to start this by saying up front I do not consider myself a “dog person.” If it were up to me, I’m not sure my family would have any pets, let alone a dog. It’s not that I have anything against pets. In concept I understand the appeal. But I also believe if you are going to invite a living creature into your home you are then responsible for the health and care of that creature. So, for years I resisted having pets that required a large level of commitment.
That is, until I met Lulu.
Lulu was a five-year-old Shih Tzu who had spent those first years of her life as a professional mom. Once you met her and experienced her mild temperament and adorable features you understood why someone decided to use her for breeding. She was a great dog, and no doubt many families were blessed to have their own little Lulu pup in their house. She had been given to my wife’s aunt to live out her retirement years but wasn’t being accepted into the small pack of other small dogs she already had. We just so happened to be visiting her for a weekend during a time when the rest of my family was signaling an interest in having a dog. When I met Lulu I was admittedly a bit smitten and realized we could do a lot worse than this adorable ball of fur. So, much to everyone in my family’s surprise, I suggested she come home with us.
She was a great companion to everyone. When I had surgery, she would sit with me in the recliner for hours encouraging me to stay put, per my doctor’s orders. She was great with the kids, and when another young puppy eventually joined our household, she quickly established herself as the queen dog. Even after that puppy well outgrew her.
Mercy is an interesting and often misunderstood concept in today’s world. We often times equate it with weakness. To show mercy means you lack the strength to get your way. This is not what Jesus means when he said, “blessed are the merciful.” Two days before writing this, and a couple weeks after Lulu’s medical condition worsened, our family had to say goodbye to our furry companion of eight years. After a couple of years managing a heart condition it became obvious the condition was no longer manageable. She had the best care we could find, but it was clear nothing was going to fix what was wrong with her. Sure, we could have opted for more invasive treatments and subjected her to more test and more procedures that may have extended her life a little, but why? In truth, doing so would have not been for her but for us. It would have meant she would continue to suffer so that we could put off our own suffering a little longer.
Mercy is not about weakness but strength. The strength to put the needs of others above our own. The strength to offer someone forgiveness even if we’d prefer to keep carrying the grudge. The strength to look past someone’s gruff exterior and see the insecurities underneath it. The strength to say goodbye when all you really want is to hold them close and not let go.
The defining feature of our faith is the belief that God so loved us that God’s son took on the ultimate sacrifice for us. That is mercy in its purist form. This is what my faith teaches me, and it is also what Lulu taught me. While I may still be in the midst of my grief, I also recognize the blessing of having a companion like Lulu was. So yes, blessed are the merciful for we have already received mercy.