Wisdom in a Dinghy

“Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses.”—Psalm 25:6 A dear friend, who is now in heaven, had a unique way of ministering to people. She was in her seventies and lived on a boat with her husband, and adopted my wife and me as her surrogate children.

If you visited her, she would often motion for you to follow her to the end of her boat, and invite you to step down into the little dinghy tied to the stern. With a pleasant smile, she would settle in and begin rowing. Your destination was somewhere out in the middle of the bay, where she would pull up the oars and invite you to say what’s on your mind.

She was a great listener and heard countless hours of people’s problems and tribulations. She was always sympathetic and concerned, but her advice, tempered by her age and experience, was often simple and direct. I found myself in her little dinghy more than once, and remember her patting my hand, looking right at me, saying, “You’ve got your eyes on yourself, instead of God.”

She was right.

Sometimes, people would take offense. After all, we found her so easy to talk with that we poured out our hearts, told her our problems and fears, only to hear her gently rebuke us. After awhile, though, I realized how right she was.

It’s not wrong to hurt.

It’s just that it hurts more when we focus on our circumstances rather than on what God wants to do, rather than remembering how much He loves us and wants the best for us. My friend, whose own life was shaped by a multitude of hardships and heartaches, reminded us to stop and thank God and praise Him for all He has done for us.

Why should I praise God, you ask, when there is so much wrong in my life?

Because...He is God.

And because you are “beloved of God” (Romans 1:7). He is, Paul wrote, “the Father of mercies.” When the Hebrews used the term “father of” they meant the originator, the author of. God is the originator of all mercy, and His mercy is “manifold” (Nehemiah 9:19) and “tender” (Psalm 25:6) and there are “multitudes” of His tender mercies for each of us (Psalm 51:1).

It is God’s very nature to comfort you, especially when life is hard.

I can’t tell you how many people took that little ride out into the middle of the bay with my friend. But I do know that she would want each of us to remember, even in hard times, the Lord’s tender mercies.