The Mercy of God

Monday, November 18

11-18By Richard Howard of Independence, Missouri, USA

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (and enemies).

—John 15:13 adapted

Elsa Brändström-Ulich stood at a window of her father’s suite of rooms in the Swedish Embassy in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1915. Looking down into the snow-covered streets she saw a long file of bleeding, ragged German prisoners of war, inching their way toward the railroad terminal under heavy guard. Filled with pity she realized their future—slavery in Siberia. Bitter, lonely death awaited many of them there, separated forever from home and friends. These unpleasant thoughts flooded her mind.

She was born into wealth, position, and a life of cultured refinement. But she had already rejected part of what those privileges meant to train as a nurse. As a child, she had read of the great work of Florence Nightingale during the horrors of the Crimean War. What she saw in that street below affected her deeply.

She snatched up her shawl and plunged into the darkening street. She heard men’s groans, curses, and sobs. She felt their sense of fear and hopelessness. She entered their valley of the shadow of death, and made it her own all the way to Siberia.

It was in that bleak, snowbound, wilderness that she became known as the “Angel of Siberia.”

She spent many months binding up the wounds of the victims of a brutal war. She gave a healing ministry of hope to forgotten men. She never vocalized the name of Christ as Savior, however it was Christ she served, doing his work, laying her own life down in the breach inflicted by warring madness.

Prayer for Peace
May our hands be your hands, God. May our love be your love. Help us see and sense the needs of others and respond with the compassion shown by Jesus in his ministry. Help us respond by sharing the Peace of Christ in deed and word.

Spiritual Practice: Embodying God’s Shalom
Find a way to express and embody God’s shalom. Begin by prayerfully listening to your longing for peace. Become silent and imagine you can hear the groaning of the Earth’s people, nations, and creatures. Prayerfully open yourself to God’s yearning for peace and the divine vision of shalom.

What images, feelings, and words come to you? What prayer for peace comes to you from your time of listening? Speak or write this prayer. What act of justice, kindness, healing, or peacemaking does God invite you to consider this day?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will be the love of Christ for someone in need.

Leave a comment


  1. Diane Akers

     /  18 November 2013

    Very wonderful testimony of God’s Love!

  2. Joyce Keenan

     /  18 November 2013

    “Leave your nets and follow me.” Elsa was truly a disciple of Jesus as she responded to His call and left the “net” of a comfortable privileged life to bring ministry. This story has me considering what nets I need to leave this day. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Susan Gregory

     /  18 November 2013

    After reading your story I had to ‘google’ Elsa Brändström-Ulich and was truly impressed by how impactful this one woman was – at a time when women had little power or influence. A perfect example of living your faith. Thanks for sharing this!!

  1. God’s expression of mercy | daily meditation


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