The Angel of Fredericksburg

“Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy”, (Matt. 5:7) A little child falls and skins his knee. On the edge of tears he runs to his mother for comfort, and she in turn, gently soothes him with the merciful spirit that seems to come naturally to women. Why is it that mercy is so fully expected and appreciated in a woman but viewed as a weakness in the character of a man?

Consider Richard Kirkland, sergeant in the Confederate Army. In December 1862, at the close of the first day of the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., hundreds of Union wounded lay on the ground ascending to the line of Rebels behind a long stone wall on Marye’s Heights. All through the second day, artillery shot from both lines prevented any relief from reaching those wounded. It was a no-man’s land. Richard Kirkland could bear their agonized cries no longer, sought out his commanding general and requested permission to go over the wall and give water to help relieve the suffering wounded. “Do you know that as soon as you show yourself to the enemy you will be shot?” asked General Kershaw. “Yes sir, I know it, but to bring a little comfort, I’m willing to take that risk”. Gaining permission and carrying a small cask of water, he climbed over the wall and walked the 35 yards to the nearest fallen soldier. Wondering eyes looked on as he knelt and, tenderly raising the Yankee’s head, held the cooling cup to his parched lips. Every man in the Union lines  under-stood his mission and not a man fired a shot while Kirkland gave drink to the thirsty, straightened mangled limbs, and covered them with their blankets. It was said
that he was so engaged for an hour and a half.

Countless times all throughout Scripture people cried out to Jesus, “Have mercy on me!”, and Jesus, moved with compassion, would heal their infirmities. Just as God’s Word says forgiveness from God goes hand in hand with our forgiveness of others (Matt. 6:14—15), it also says, “With the merciful, thou will show thyself merciful”. (Psalm 18:25) Showing mercy. Is it weakness or strength of character. You decide.

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