When a wildfire raged through the beautiful canyons near Colorado Springs, Colorado, it destroyed the habitat of all kinds of wildlife and hundreds of homes. People across the nation cried out to God, pleading with Him to send rain to douse the flames, put an end to the destruction, and give firefighters relief. Some people’s prayers had an interesting condition attached to them. They asked God to show mercy and send rain without lightning, which they feared would start even more fires.
This reminds me of how we live in tension between things that save us and kill us. With fire, we cook our food and keep warm, but in it we can be consumed. With water, we keep our bodies hydrated and our planet cooled, but in it we also can drown. Too much or too little of either is life-threatening.
We see the same principle at work spiritually. To thrive, civilizations need the seemingly opposite qualities of mercy and justice (Zech. 7:9). Jesus scolded the Pharisees for being sticklers about the law but neglecting these “weightier matters” (Matt. 23:23).
We may lean toward justice or mercy, but Jesus keeps them in perfect balance (Isa. 16:5; 42:1-4). His death satisfies God’s need for justice and our need for mercy.