Have you ever realized how much of a gift taste and smell are?
If you have experienced COVID, you might have an idea!
I wrote before how not having an appetite for months gave me a newfound appreciation for hunger. (Read that here.) This time, finding myself sick with COVID and without taste and smell for a week, I realized how much I appreciate being able to taste and smell. Ever since I stopped eating gluten and dairy, I have come to love smell even more. Though it may seem counterintuitive, I love smelling things I cannot eat! When those around me are eating something I cannot, especially if it is something I have not had before, I feel like I can enjoy it a little too by smelling it.
Story aside– losing my taste and smell made me reflect afresh upon the mercy of God. It has been on my mind a lot lately, and this is a perfect illustration!
Why Taste and Smell?
Why did God create us with the ability to taste and smell?
I think the answer we have to come to is for enjoyment. Taste and smell enable us to enjoy food, but not only food. Fragrances. A candle or diffuser. Fresh air. Pine trees. Flowers. Coffee. There are a lot of things that we enjoy smelling!
It is also practical. For example– cooking is difficult with no taste or smell. I did not realize how much I rely upon those two senses until I tried it. I inadvertently burnt my food because I could not smell the smoke!
Smell and taste are also protective. We can smell things that might be a danger– smoke, chemicals, etc. We can taste if a food is going bad.
They are nostalgic. Tastes and smells connect us to memories.
So, yes, they are practical things. But taste and smell are inherently enjoyable. They produce pleasure.
The Lord did not have to design us like this– I can eat just fine without taste or smell –but He did.
And I think it is a sign of His mercy.
What is mercy?
Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines mercy in this way.
That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.
Another definition I love comes from the book Inexpressible by Michael Card.
When the person from which I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.
I like that definition because it encapsulates two sides of mercy.
First of all, God owes us nothing. The only thing we deserve from Him is His just judgment and condemnation. Second, He has given us everything.
Mercy in Scripture
I will share a few thoughts on mercy from Scripture. Don’t just skip through these passages. Read through them slowly, thinkin about how they display mercy.
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.Acts 17:24-25 ESV
But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.Matthew 5:44-45 ESV
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.1 Timothy 6:17 ESV
He makes the sun rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. He gives to all life and breath and everything. The God of mercy grants His good gifts without merit. And He gives them for our enjoyment, not only our survival.
While apart from Christ, we have received a measure of His mercy. It is His mercy that leads us to repentance and life. His mercy draws us to Himself.
Everything is Mercy
Everything in our lives as Christians is mercy. Whether we perceive our circumstances to be good or evil, wanted or unwanted, expected or unexpected. They are all mercy.
Jesus has fully absorbed the wrath of God. (1 John 2:1-2) Formerly we did not receive mercy, but now we have. (1 Peter 2:10) We have been born again to a living hope through His mercy. (1 Peter 1:3) We have been saved, not because of our good works but because of His mercy. (Titus 3:5)
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:Psalm 23:6 KJV
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Friends, when we realize that anything less than just judgment and condemnation is mercy, how can we not be filled with gratitude?