Margaret and the Power of Mercy

We’d had bible study that day – about Elisha and the chariots of fire.  We were talking about the power of God and the mercy of God. He not only displayed his power in blinding the enemy and capturing them, but also showed them mercy, as they feasted and returned to their homeland.  We wondered whether they stopped attacking because of God’s power or if it was the mercy shown to them.

“Ah, this is a good story about Elisha.  I want to share a story about this very point.”

My tenant wasn’t paying his rent.  For three months, he didn’t pay.  So I talked to him, ‘You know I am just a poor widow and this is my main income.  I don’t go to work or have money and you need to pay your rent or move out.’

The young man told me, ‘No, mama, I will pay you everything next week.’

Then he began coming home very, very late and leaving early in the morning.  He avoided me and put a big lock on the door.

One night, I had enough and bought my own lock and put my lock on the door over his.

When he arrived home at 22:00 hrs, he was very angry.  He went to his friend and said, ‘My landlord has stolen money from me.  Come with me, so we will beat her and get back my money.’”

The young man and his friend came to Margaret’s door and burst in.  They pulled Margaret’s son straight from bed and began to beat him.  Margaret leapt out of bed and called for her neighbors to wake up and come help her and her son.  She grabbed her young tenant by the hair and began punching at him with all her might (Margaret’s meek temper in all things made us all gasp at this point in the story!).  The neighbors ran over and held the two men.  Margaret’s son had been beaten quite badly and needed medical care.  Her neighbors told her to go to the hospital with her son while they waited for the police and filed a report.

“After my son was treated at the hospital, we came home and found the police waiting for us.  They said, ‘There are only three ways this case can go – we will throw the men in jail, the case can go to the courts, or the tenant can pay what he owes and move out.’

I said, ‘No, I don’t want them to go to jail, or for us both to go to court.  I don’t even want him to pay me for the past months.  I just want you to come with me and make sure he moves out of the house.  Then he can go free.’

‘Do you hear what this woman is saying to you?  She is letting you go.  She is forgiving you when you don’t deserve it.’”

The young tenant began weeping and thanked Margaret and confessed to the police that he had lied about her stealing money from him when he was really just angry about the lock and not being able to get into the house.

The police warned him that they would be watching him and that he better stay away from Margaret from then on and not even say a bad word about her in the community.  That morning the tenant was moved out and went his way.

A month later, Margaret was walking in the compound when she encountered the young man again.

He was drunk and started cursing Margaret and her friends.  One of the same policemen just happened to be near and grabbed the young man.

“Don’t you recognize your old landlord?  Don’t you recognize the one who forgave you?”

The young man’s eyes were opened and he fell down and begged forgiveness.

It was just like the bible story – did the change happen because of the power or was it because of the mercy?

We don’t know, maybe it’s a bit of both.  Whatever the case, the young man, though still a raging drunk, no longer curses at anyone and every time he sees Margaret, drunk or sober, he comes and greets her, “My mother, my mother.”

When I hear the cry of a broken young man calling out, “My mother, my mother,” I think the power must be in the extraordinary mercy.

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