I prayed, "God, you're my God! Listen, God! Mercy! Psalm 140:6 (MSG)
I remember, as a kid, playing a game called "Mercy." It was your typical alpha male, king of the mountain, game of physical domination and abject humiliation. I'm sure it was created by some bully named Zeke who thought it up after he'd already given wedgies to every kid on the playground. Basically, two people face each other and put their hands together as if they were giving each other high fives. However, they lace their fingers together so that their hands are now clasping. Then they try to bend the other person's hands back until one of them is on their knees in submission and cries, "Mercy!"
How easily we come to equate "mercy" with defeat and humiliation. How quickly mercy becomes a cry to be avoided as we hang desperately to our pride and rugged self-sufficiency. As a child on the playground I learned that asking for "mercy" was a repugnant admission of defeat.
But, God is no school ground bully. If life were a mere playground game, God would have sent Jesus to be King of the Mountain. From his throne, Jesus would tyrannically force people in submission to his will. Instead, God sent Jesus to suffer humiliation and death on our behalf. The way of salvation became, not a meritous reward we earn in the dominating power of our own goodness, but an undeserved gift to any who are willing to pick up their own cross, follow Jesus and cry to God: "Mercy!"