Who is the Lord?
Our answer to this question shapes everything we say in counseling. He is the Judge, Scorned One, Law-Giver, Law-Keeper, King, Servant, Holy One, Lamb, Lion, Alpha and Omega, One–who-Hears, along with scores of other revealed names and character qualities.
Your Favorite Name will Impact Your Counseling
Emphasize any of these and watch how your tone and language change. When you are meditating on God-as-Judge you will sound different from when your tone is controlled by The-One-Who-Washes-Feet.
Specialize in any of these and you will be more helpful with some people and less helpful with others. Some need to know the God who is not to be trifled with, others the one who identifies with outcasts.
For better or worse, most of us have our favorites. It is difficult to keep the many names of God in mind along with the biblical stories attached to them. Though we want to know the breadth and depth of the character of God, we usually have our go-to names and passages. One of mine is: The God-of-Tender-Mercies.
“because of the tender mercy of our God” spoken by Zechariah (Luke 1:78)
“in remembrance of his mercy” spoken by Mary (Luke 1:54)
We live and breathe because of the tender mercies of our Father.
Jesus came because of the tender mercies of God.
The Lord’s premiere self-declaration is: “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious” (Exodus 34:6). When you focus on that, all Scripture becomes the overwhelming evidence that this revelation, indeed, is true. He is not only the God of mercy; he is the Father of tender mercy.
Try Tender Mercies
When you emphasize the tender mercies of the Lord, you can’t go wrong. It is an invitation to the rebellious and wayward, and it is a comfort to the burdened and oppressed.
“Mercy” in Scripture will sometimes stand by itself, though most writers have a hard time containing themselves once they consider God’s mercies. Jeremiah is typical when he connects mercy, steadfast love and faithfulness into an irresistible bundle (Lamentations 3:22). Zechariah follows suit with tender mercy (Luke 1:78)—affectionate mercy, heart-felt mercy, mercy that is accompanied by paternal tears, mercy that is not the judge saying, “I’ll give you one more break, but . . .,” it is the Father saying, “The very depth of my being is churned up with mercy. I can’t hold it back and I won’t hold it back.”
When it sounds too good to be true you know you are beginning to understand God’s revelation of himself.
Consider making tender mercy a specialty—at least for a while. I think you will find yourself to be more patient, inviting and persuasive, grateful, persevering, alert to the immense burdens of sin and suffering in everyday life, and more active in your response to such needs.