Compassion captured my attention this morning. Not so much acts of compassion but the word compassion and the promise of compassion and the God of compassion.
I’m continuing to read in that portion of Isaiah which has moved beyond Israel’s judgment and looks forward to her restoration. That portion that speaks of God’s remedy for her sin and of the redemption He has planned from her slavery. And at the heart of God’s determination for wayward Israel is His compassion.
“For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid My face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the LORD, your Redeemer. . . . “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but My steadfast love shall not depart from you, and My covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:7, 8, 10 ESV)
That’s my God . . . the LORD who has compassion.
The LORD who, despite Israel’s hard hearts and stiff necks . . . despite their rejection and rebellion . . . despite their folly with idols and their failure with fidelity . . . shows mercy to a nation many would consider beyond mercy. A God who loves on a people who have forfeited any right to being loved on. A God who remains faithful to the family He has called not because they deserve it, but because of who He is. By His very nature, God is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love (Ex. 34:6).
Because of His great compassion, He will gather His people . .. He will again show them His face . . . and His covenant of peace they will fully know.
Praise God that His purposes and His promises are not dependent on His people’s performance but that they rest upon His very unchanging nature. To be sure there may be “a brief moment” when our sin has quenched His presence . . . times of self-determination where He responds by hiding His face . . . but even those are used of a God abounding in love to shape and secure His children.
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. . . . that we may share His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:5-6, 10b ESV)
God reveals His nature that we might know His nature and respond in light of His nature. He reminds us of His steadfast love that we might hope in that love. He reveals Himself as compassionate so that, in times when we feel like we should flee and hide, we in fact draw near and abide.
Though our repeated failures cause frustration. Though our repeated confessions of sin seem feeble. Yet, by faith, we are confident that He is the LORD who has compassion.
Praise God for the all sufficient work of the cross . . . and for His abundant grace . . . and for His unceasing compassion.
All for His glory!