Divine Craving & the Mercy of God
Even if we have thousands of acts of great virtue to our credit, our confidence in being heard must be based on God’s mercy and His love for humanity. Even if we stand at the very summit of virtue, it is by mercy that we shall be saved. [St. John Chrysostom].
Mercy is an attribute that God has imposed upon Himself. From it, the penitent soul receives an inspired passion that leads to a life dedicated to God. This godly life protects the soul against overwhelming fear and despair.
For by Grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)].
We must not underestimate the power of lust. But, even more important, we must understand how the soul can overcome it. Our ability to moderate and overpower lust depends solely on the mercy of God. It is God’s mercy that provides an escape from our depravity.
And when those who believe in Our messages come unto thee, say: “Peace be upon you. Your Sustainer has willed upon Himself the law of grace and mercy – so that if any of you does a bad deed out of ignorance, and thereafter repents and lives righteously, He shall be [found] much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.” [Quran 6:54]
Our natural disposition is to want, desire, crave. To be passive, without passion or ambition, leaves us unfulfilled. Our sadness, unhappiness and frustrations are all related to our inability to have what we want.
Moreover, the absence of a defined purpose, the lack of meaning in our life, leads to melancholia, dejection, depression, despondency, gloominess.
There is a joy which is not given to the ungodly, but to those who love Thee for Thine own sake, whose joy Thou Thyself art. And this is the happy life, to rejoice to Thee, of Thee, for Thee; this it is, and there is no other. [Confessions, Saint Augustine, XXII].
Without this divinely inspired enthusiasm, all personal resolutions, self-help programs and religious rituals are ineffective in conquering lust. Only the infinite and eternal mercy of God can transform us.
If you don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. I invite you to turn from the dulling effects of food and the dangers of idolatry, and to say with some simple fast: “This much, O God, I want you.” [John Piper, A Hunger for God, p. 23].
No Place for Lust
In the very act of seeking God, we have evidence of His mercy working within us. It is a sign of Grace, for which we have hoped and waited.
Say, “O My servants who have transgressed against themselves [by sinning], do not despair of the mercy of Allah. Indeed, Allah forgives all sins. Indeed, it is He who is the Forgiving, the Merciful.” [Quran 39:53]
This longing for God brings our mind into submission to the Divine Will. When we surrender our soul in humble penance, we align our thoughts with the Divine Mind, where carnal lust finds no place.
We implore the mercy of God, not that He may leave us at peace in our vices, but that He may deliver us from them. [Blaise Pascal].
We break with the world of lustful craving in exchange for being bonded to God. We find ourselves out of sync with the secular and in step with the sacred.
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me. [Psalm 86].
With a sincere and fervent longing for God within us, our worldview shifts from the transient toward the eternal. We begin to see life differently. We no longer seek physical pleasure to satisfy our desires, nor carnal pleasure to satisfy our lust.
Call unto your Sustainer humbly, and in the secrecy of your hearts. Verily, He loves not those who transgress the bounds of what is right: hence, do not spread corruption on earth after it has been so well ordered. And call unto Him with fear and longing: verily, God’s grace is ever near unto the doers of good! [Quran 7:55-6].
- Richard J. Foster, Gayle D. Beebe, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion
- How’s Your Spiritual Appetite? by Rick Warren
A hermit meditating by a river was interrupted by a young man: “Master, I wish to become your disciple,” said the man. “Why?” replied the hermit. The young man thought for a moment. “Because I want to find God.”
The master grabbed him by the neck, and plunged his head under water. After holding him there a few moments, kicking and struggling, the master let him up. The young man coughed up water and gasped to get his breath. When he quieted down, the master spoke. “Tell me, what did you want most of all when you were under water.”
“Air!” answered the young man.
“Very well,” said the master. “Go home and come back to me when you want God as much as you just wanted air.” [Unknown author]