great is your mercy, o Lord; give me life according to your rules. [psalm 119:156]
mercy = God not giving us what we deserve
grace = God giving us what we do not deserve
without God’s rules, his law, how are we to know the magnitude of his mercy? if punishment does not exist, then mercy or grace are meaningless. it is not about not sinning or simply getting to heaven. rather it is about personally drawing close to God- rejoicing in the abundance of grace and mercy he shows us daily.
along with his mercy and grace, the psalmist highlights yet another attribute of God- balance. how amazing is it that our God is ever so willing to extend compassion when we inevitably fail? life is a balance scale. every time we sin God is right by our side with his mercy and grace to lift us up and bring us back to a state of equilibrium- to him.
not only does the psalmist know of God’s mercy, grace, and stability, he exclaims and cries out, “o Lord”! in this moment, the psalmist makes the journey from his head to his heart. cognitively, he understands his need for the Lord. as a result, the psalmist begins to cry out to the Lord- an emotional experience.
when one cries, the amygdala (area of the brain that controls emotional processing) sends a signal to the hypothalamus (gland in the brain that’s connected to the autonomic nervous system). the autonomic nervous system is responsible for unconscious bodily functions (ex: breathing or heartbeats). thus, in the moment when the psalmist cried out to the Lord, he offered up his head, heart, and body to God, giving him control because he knows that God’s love, mercy, grace, balance/stability, and direction was and will always be greater than the momentary desires of his heart.
crying out to the Lord is not dependent upon the number of tears shed. however, if a prayer does not leave the headspace, then how does it differentiate itself from a mere thought or idea?
~ angela younger