Mercy in the Middle

What makes a story worthy to share?  The center of the story that allows you to share is Jesus. from The Shelter of God’s Promises by Sheila Walsh

On Saturday at Women of Purpose (WOP), Jen Hicks made a difference in many lives by opening up her heart and showing us Jesus at the center of her story.  She said, “We are in this life together.  What’s more important than showing you my mess is to show you the Messiah.”

As she stood on the stage, she held a notebook filled with post-its and notes.  She showed us the pages and said, “I am kinda being pieced together. This [the notebook] is a reflection of my heart today…some of you have endured unspeakable pain.  I am not here to compare, just to share.  I think maybe someone else’s processes will be easier if we share our processes and stories.”

So, she shared, and we each learned about Jesus’ mercy in the middle of suffering, despair, loneliness, and brokenness:  “Sometimes we go from being horrified to healing, but in the middle we are held,” she said.

A white towel.  A broken tree.  A yellow umbrella.

All three examples of Jesus and his mercy in the middle of her grief and despair.


A White Towel

Jen described her loving, tenderhearted, grace-filled, compassionate, kind, hard-working husband, Randy, who passed away this year.  She recounted a moment in the hospital after he passed.  She’s leaning over, unable to comprehend the loss, and sees a white towel in her face.  She looks up and finds a janitor.  The man says to her, “It’s all I got to give you.  I walked by and had to come back.”

Mercy in the middle.  Mercy from Jesus who saw Jen’s need in the midst of her pain and provided mercy in the form of a janitor and towel.  A towel to wipe her brow and mouth after she’d been physically ill after her husband’s passing.

Jen said, “God honors people who think they don’t have much to give but they do.  The hospital couldn’t find record of this man on the schedule, but I can still tell you his story.  He gave the best he had.”

At the end the day, Jen handed me this towel tied up in ribbon as a reminder that there’s mercy in the middle and we need to give the best we have.  It’s one of the most meaningful gifts I have been given.

What you have to offer might not seem like much to you, but to another, it might be all they need.


A Broken Tree

“I asked for him to be buried near a pretty tree, but all those spaces were taken.  It was okay.  He would be buried at the edge of the woods.”  When I heard this, I thought…Lord, could you not have found a place with a tree?  It’s such a small request. But, our sovereign God had a better plan.

As the graveside service was ending, someone directed Jen’s attention to a tree at the edge of the woods.  It looks like a cross she was told.  Jen admitted she was a bit skeptical although she didn’t voice it. When she turned, she saw this tree…broken…in the shape of a cross.

“God maybe didn’t break this tree for me, but I benefitted.  And, there’s things all around you that he’s doing that could benefit you,” she said.

Mercy in the middle. As she said goodbye to her husband, God reminded her of the cross and all it represents.

I later talked to Jen about the tree. We talked about the importance of looking for God everywhere, in all things, and being thankful when we see Him and His mercy manifested in our midst.

She reminded me that God is intentional.  “The intention of God is the attention he pays to your life. He’s an intentional God who is in the beginning, middle, and end.”

He’s paying attention to my life, but I wonder how many times I wasn’t paying attention to Him.  Perhaps, God tried to direct my attention to something in His creation that would show me his love, mercy, and grace. But, I was too busy or too skeptical or too lazy to turn to Him and look, seeing the blessing he had for me.

“Never miss where He’s turning your head, Sarah,” she said to me.

Never miss where He’s turning your head, sister. He’s intentional.


A Yellow Umbrella

Jen’s card from her WOP sisters featured a yellow umbrella.

“We don’t have an umbrella, so we will walk through the rain with you,” it read.

We all need friends who will walk in the rain with us.  Whether it’s a sprinkle or a downpour, having a group of loving sisters holding your hand, hugging your neck, and praying you through is priceless.

Mercy in the middle.  Friends who won’t give up on you and will walk with you regardless of the mess.

Indeed, His mercy is in the middle. His mercy is in the middle of the uphill battle.  It’s in the middle of the downhill free fall.  It’s in the middle of the valley’s deepest despair.

He’s there in between the “already” and the “not yet.”

“Christ is in the chaos and you can rest in Abba’s arms.” – Jen’s final words to us

I don’t know what you’re walking through today.  But, please know there’s mercy in the middle of your struggle – even if you can’t see the end.  Our God is merciful. “For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon you or destroy you or forget the solemn covenant he made with your ancestors.” Deut 4:31  “The LORD is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” Psalm 148:5

He’s with you. Turn to him and find rest in His loving arms.


  1. Julie Wagner says:

    Simply beautiful.

  2. Charlotte says:

    Thank you for posting this. It has touched me profoundly. I’m going to print a copy to keep in my Bible.

  3. Jen’s sharing was the biggest blessing I received at WOP this year. I lost my Dad and a young cousin in the last few months so I connected. I pray for Jen and I also hope she is back to singing next year!

  4. Carla Sloter says:

    This is absolutely awesome. I shared this and I too will print this and keep close. Sarah your gift of writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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