God’s mercy can be described as an intentional effort to do something that will benefit us. Most of the time, mercy is displayed when it is least expected. God is the only person adequately equipped to perform acts of mercy because in order for something to be merciful it must change a person’s life. The best example of this is Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross. Jesus had the power to overcome death, the ability to grant eternal life, and a willingness to be crucified. No other man could do what he did.
In some ways, mercy can be understood as the ultimate act of love and yet, it is not really a single act, but the culmination of many acts over a period of time. I think of mercy as being like a marriage proposal that comes after a long courtship that included many acts of kindness in order to win my heart.
The phrase “for his mercy endureth for ever” is repeated 26 times in Psalm 136. Each time it is a response to a statement about God. It might be strange to think that God wants us to love him and has gone to great lengths to win our love, but that is exactly what Jesus’ death on the cross demonstrates. It was not a weak, wimpy expression of love, but a divine proposal to spend eternity with the master of the universe.