God is irrationally kind by the ways of man. His ways are higher than our ways. His kindness is infinite. It can afford to be. Where He dwells and where we came from–and where we will eventually return –there is no limit to time. There is no limit to mercy and love.
It is true that mercy cannot rob justice. But repentance can. Repentance, in other words turning to God, whether early or late, can allow mercy to satisfy the demands of justice. That is the core meaning of the Life of Jesus Christ. It is what He lived and died and returned to life to convey to us. “Come unto me, all ye who are heavy laden–by your sorrows and your guilt, your blame and your own shame–and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“Rest” (hope, peace, serenity) is a gift that we receive from Christ–just as the workers who came late in the day received a full day’s pay (Matthew 20:8-10), just as the prodigal received the royal treatment (Luke 15:22-23). We receive His rest, not as a wage we have earned, but as a gift that He freely gives to us.
Satan thinks in terms of wages, requiring us to work, bargain or beg for what we receive; God thinks in terms of gifts and blesses us accordingly.
God will gift you better. He will gift you with love and patience and longsuffering and kindness–over and over and over again, until you can no longer believe Satan’s lie that God is mean and cruel and unloving.
It is God’s goal to keep following after you, no matter how far or how long you flee from Him, until He has finally outlasted your resistance to Him. He does not care how confused and bitter and unbelieving you are. He’s going to keep a blaze of belief and faith burning in His own heart just for your sake. And when you have finally experienced enough of this life to know that living without God never brings heart-deep peace and joy, He’ll be right there beside you to take you in His arms, lift you onto His shoulders, and bear you home in triumph.
Whose triumph? His.
Those who return triumphant will only do so by being carried in the arms of the Triumphant One–the only One who can triumph over both life and death, over our delusions of goodness, and our nightmares of evil.