Day 1 of Lent, Psalm 103:
There is beauty in waking up to flowers incased in ice, and icicles dangling from green leaves. However, at the same time I feel sad, observing those delicate little flowers and wondering if they can bear it. It is disheartening when the signs of spring are here one day, and the next, full branches are bowed, unable to bear the weight of the cold and ice. Something is not quite right. A feeling, that this is not how it ought to be, lingers in the crisp cold air.
I do not think much about God’s compassion towards me. Why do I need compassion? I am not withering under the weight of ice. I am healthy. I have my needs taken care of; I have a great family, who loves me. I love what I do. Isn’t compassion for those who are “less fortunate,” have been through some type of calamity, or have little hope for rescue? Yet, Psalm 103 speaks much about God’s compassion:
Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul and forget none of His benefits; … who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion… Psalm 103:1,2,4
What is compassion?
Some of my earlier memories of compassion are from my mother. There is the time she invited a homeless man to Thanksgiving dinner with us. Or, there was the time she welcomed a pregnant high school girl into our home to live with us. Working alongside my mom at the thrift store, she managed, or helping at a soup kitchen in Kansas City, I was learning about compassion from her. Compassion does not come natural to me, but my mom is a woman overflowing with compassion.
The Bible overflows also with God’s compassion- filling the pages of the Old and New Testament.
Therefore, the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. Isaiah 30:18
When he saw the crowds, he (Jesus) had compassion on them because they were bewildered and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
God is compassionate. He longs and waits to extend compassion. Compassion is apart of His nature. What I know about compassion is this: it is as if love, patience and kindness– of the fruit of the spirit, are woven together, forming this beautiful thing called compassion.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. Psalm 103:8
is motivated by love or care for another
displays patience since the receiver may not be deserving of it
is kindness with hands and feet. Kindness is being lived out because the receiver may not be able to return the kindness.
Love, patience, and kindness=compassion
We are dust
I think pretty highly of myself. (I did get the citizenship trophy in sixth grade!) However, really I sense, I could be so much better. I don’t’ feel like things are quite as they ought to be. I really would like to see some change in not just one, but many areas. It is too easy to be self-absorbed and self-focused.
Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him, for He himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” Psalm 103:13-14
Yet, He is mindful of our frame. He knows what we are like,what we are made our of and the limitations we have. His is familar with our life of toil, hardship and death. Invading the world, and robbing us of true intimacy, sin affected everything and everyone. Without Him, we perish. Yes, I am someone who is “less fortunate,” who sometimes makes poor choices, and who has no hope apart from Christ.
However, in my condition, God shows me love and compassion. If I sit and dwell on this, I can see He is compassionate towards me in many ways. He wants good for me. He is often slow to correct– giving time to turn. But He also corrects me for my good. He waits for me to return to Him. He gives me things I don’t deserve. He withholds things I do deserve. His love, patience, and kindness are continually poured out to me. He knows me and really wants my best
Running out of Compassion
Because I know my selfish ways, it is hard to believe that He wants to be compassionate towards me at times. Instead of thinking, “I am pretty good.” I ask, “How can he keep showing me compassion? Isn’t He going to run out of it?” Or is He going to say, ‘That is enough. No compassion. Not this time.”
Recently, I needed to take one of my boys to a doctor for reoccurring symptoms from an injury. He had already been to one doctor and had missed almost a week of school, so he wasn’t excited at all to miss more school the next day and to go to the doctor again. Actually, he was pretty mad at me. He does not like the unknown, visiting doctors or being behind in school. It was not a pleasant evening. The next day I picked him up from school and planned to grab some Chick-fil-A to help soothe the frustration (Chick-fil-A tends to do that!). The appointment went well. He liked the doctor and enjoyed his lunch. During lunch he said, “Mom, I apologize for the way I treated you. Will you forgive me?” I quickly said, “No way! You have been through a lot with this injury, but you don’t need to take it out on me. You don’t deserve this lunch. I went out of my way to work this out!” Of course, I didn’t say that. I had already forgiven him and was praying for him. I felt his pain in the situation. I even planned on Chick-fil-A, instead of taking him back to the cafeteria, even before he apologized. I love him, desire to be patient with him because of his condition. I wondered if kindness would soften his heart. It was a sweet moment. We did laugh together though, as I told him, “Being mad at your mom is part of the job description for a teenager!”
My compassion is small, but God’s is huge, exceptional, beyond our comprehension and never running out. Even though things are not as they ought to be, I get to experience His love, patience and kindness through it. From Him I learn compassion. His compassion ultimately was demonstrated in the life and death of His Son. Without Him, we would be “less fortunate,” headed for calamity, and with no hope.
God is full of compassion. To meet Him changes everything.
This is day 1 of Lent in the Psalms. Follow along. I may post more Lent reflections from Psalms, even though I may not post every link on facebook. I would love to hear what stood out to you from the Psalm for that day.
Overflow: allowing God’s ways to touch our lives and then our lives to pour out to others
As we start Lent today, God’s compassion is a good thing to dwell on. How can His compassion shape the next 40 days?
Are there things you are keeping from God, that you need to confess? He longs to show you compassion.
Who can you show compassion? Looks for ways to show compassion today.
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