Cry for help and you'll find it's grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he'll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he'll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right. (Isaiah 30:19-22, MSG)
Mercy and grace go hand in hand, but I think at their heart, mercy means we don't get the punishment we deserve and grace refers to the times we get all of God's marvelous gifts that we don't deserve.
And Isaiah promises--grace and MORE grace. He mentions it in the context of answered prayer.
God longs to answer our prayers. He waits, eager to hear our pleas for help. Isaiah says He'll answer as soon as he hears our cries.
That's not always my experience--probably because I equate an answer with a definite "yes" or guidance. Sometimes God says, "Trust Me. I have things under control." Sometimes the answer is "no"--the hardest to accept answer, but it is an answer.
How does God answer? He stays with us. He's "local and on the job," the kind of workman who would receive top reviews on Angie's List.
The two words used to describe God's relationship with us remind me of the words used to describe Jesus by His disciples. He was their Master and their Teacher. He was responsible for their physical needs and for the content that they learned.
God has always done the same for His people. He keeps us during the hard times. It says He keeps us alive--but we can't take that literally. Too many believers have died for their faith, or have died of illness or war or other reasons. But the hard times alone don't kill us.
While we are going through those hard times, our Teacher works right beside us. He tells us when we go astray. He encourages us to stay true to our faith. If we ever wonder which road God wants us to take, He will show us, left or right.
What I also find interesting: this explanation of grace comes in the context of our cries for help. Most of us would prefer for God's grace to spare us from hard times. Instead, He promises us grace to get through them.
I have a lifetime of stories of grace to share. How about you?