Psalm 103:8-10 - The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
I have never seen a rhinoceros in the wild. Truth is, I don't want to see a rhinoceros in the wild.
That being said, there are folks who love God's creation so much even the rhinoceros is beautiful to them. They can think of nothing better than to go on a camera safari and capture on film the memories of the big game they have seen.
Unfortunately, their chances of seeing a rhino in its natural habitat are getting smaller.
I've been told that the nation of South Africa is the home of 80 percent of the rhinos in the world. Even though they are protected, last year over 1,000 rhinos were slaughtered by poachers. And if you're wondering ... no, the poachers didn't kill those big beasts because they were starving. They slaughtered the rhinos for their horns, which are used in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicines.
That was the way things were -- the way it seemed things would stay. Then, a week or two ago, a story came out of Africa: a story unlike any I had heard before.
It seems some rhino poachers had broken into the Sibuya Game Reserve. Working silently, they had managed to avoid the guards and the rangers who protect the rhinos. Even so, their mission was not a successful one.
I say that because a ranger discovered the bodies of two, maybe three, poachers who hadn't managed to avoid a pride of hungry lions.
When I shared that story with people, 9 out of 10 replied, "Good! Those poachers got what was coming to them." And lest you think I'm throwing others under the bus, I have to confess there was a time when I wrestled with this instant karma, which had overtaken the poachers.
Then I had some second thoughts.
I realize that is not the way the Lord has worked with me, you, our friends, our families. If the Lord did decide to punish our sins immediately and as severely as we deserved, none of us would make it through a single day.
Instead of dolling out large quantities of instantaneous justice, the Lord usually exhibits a great deal of grace and mercy. As the psalmist said, "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. ... He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities."
In short, the Lord doesn't give us the punishments our sins have deserved and, at the same time, He does give us the forgiveness and salvation Jesus' sacrifice has earned.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we know there is a limitation to Your long-suffering. We know there will be a time of judgment. Since that is so, we ask that You will help us rejoice and live in the mercy and grace which You have, because of Jesus, given to us. In the Savior's Name. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Reuters staff on July 5, 2018. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wildlife-lion-poaching/lions-eat-rhino-poachers-on-south-african-game-reserve-idUSKBN1JV2G7
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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