The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Joel 2:13  

God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.  Thessalonians 5:9-10  

What Good News these verses deliver to us! Here we are going about our lives and messing up each and every day. We intend to follow the Ten commandments, we intend to love others, but we fall far short of this. We know that there are consequences when we do things wrong or don’t do something that we should; something good. We can be fearful of the consequences. After all if we break a law we have consequences – perhaps a fine for speeding, or even jail.. There could be loss of a job for not getting our work done, loss of trust if we don’t complete a task we promised to do. In our human world, people often get angry with us, very quickly, when we do wrong.   

How much more will God punish us since He is holy and has set out laws for us to follow to be holy like Him? Sounds like we should be very fearful of the punishment that will be meted out by God. Maybe that is why we had an illness, or the crops failed, or storms ruined communities. Then we happily read verses like in Joel – God is gracious, He is merciful. Not immediately getting angry with us when we sin but waiting for us to come to Him and ask for forgiveness. He abounds in love for us, a steadfast love that continues no matter how often we sin and disappoint Him.

In Jeremiah we read that God will even forget – that is He “will remember their sin no more.” Jesus was sent for our salvation. Paul writes that we are not destined for God’s anger or wrath, but rather to obtain salvation. Jesus Christ who was sent to demonstrate the love of God, who loved the people He met while on earth and continues to do so in heaven. The Jesus Christ who actually died for our sins, so that we might be raised with Him into eternal life. Plus while here on earth we do not have to fear God’s anger, we can live secure in the knowledge and comfort of His grace and love.  

Lord, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, relenting from punishment, wow! When life goes awry we assume you are angry. Thank you, gracious merciful father that we live in your abundant love that takes away fear. As people not destined for wrath but for salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, we’re overwhelmed. Stir us to love and share your grace-filled message of to others who are fearful as we were.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen. 

Chris Gabel