Lean into God’s Compassion
By: Jessica Van Roekel
“But you, O Lor, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. Turn to me and be gracious to me, give your strength to your servant,” (Psalm 86:15-16a, ESV)
Are you slow to anger? If so, you are my hero. I strive to be slow to anger, but I’m a work in progress. It helps when I remember I need mercy and grace every day. I miss the mark, but I know God is slow to anger. And when I am angry at myself for being quick to anger, I know that God looks on me with kindness. His eyes fill with steadfast love, and he helps me through the mess my anger creates.
I am so grateful God is compassionate. To be compassionate means to feel sorrow for someone else’s suffering, with a desire and effort to help. We see God’s compassion for us in the person of Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, we can have forgiveness and salvation. Our lives change when we meet Jesus so that we can know God’s great compassion. His compassion helps us live for him in our day to day.
There is action behind compassion. As we lean into God’s compassion, we begin to see his actions in our lives. We experience his mercy when we mess up once again. We know his grace when he encourages us to fall forward into his arms, and he helps us stand again. All through the Old Testament, we see how full of mercy God was to his people. Then in the New Testament, we see Jesus’s compassion on the crowds. Jesus delivered his good news of freedom, healed the brokenhearted, and gave sight to the blind of eyes and heart.
Jonah did not understand the Lord’s compassion. He ran away from God’s command and spent three days and nights in the belly of a whale before he obeyed God and warned the people of Nineveh of imminent destruction. The Ninevites repented, and God extended compassion to them. He did not destroy them. Instead of rejoicing, Jonah thought this was very wrong. He pouted in anger because God was compassionate.
We can learn much from Jonah. For one, to obey right away. Second, to remember how much we need mercy and grace. We are not perfect. We do not have it all together. Yet, it’s so easy to look at everyone else’s failings and refuse to see our own. We want to experience God’s compassion, but do we want our greatest enemy to experience his compassion? In my most honest moments, I struggle to say yes.
I want God’s acts of compassion toward me. I want him to forgive me, to help me, to bless me. But when I’ve been wounded by someone’s betrayal, I want punishment for them. I am not slow to anger, and I struggle to show mercy and grace. But God. He steps in and reminds me that I need his compassion just as much as my enemies do. This keeps me humble and fully reliant on his grace. I’m grateful for his steadfast love and his strength to extend compassion when I would be compassionless like Jonah.
It’s tempting to respond like Jonah. He knew God’s nature because he experienced for himself, but he grew angry when God showed compassion to the Ninevites. People whom he felt didn’t deserve it. We know the Ninevites gave up their evil and violent ways. They humbled themselves before God, and he responded in compassion. Humility is key in learning to let go of our anger and to receive God’s strength to extend compassion to others. The book of Jonah ends with God asking Jonah a question, and we’re left wondering what happened to him. Did he stay angry? Did he harbor resentment toward God?
The Living God – Streams in the Desert – January 17
- 202317 Jan
O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee? (Daniel 6:20).
How many times we find this expression in the Scriptures, and yet it is just this very thing that we are so prone to lose sight of. We know it is written “the living God”; but in our daily life there is scarcely anything we practically so much lose sight of as the fact that God is the living God; that He is now whatever He was three or four thousand years since; that He has the same sovereign power, the same saving love towards those who love and serve Him as ever He had and that He will do for them now what He did for others two, three, four thousand years ago, simply because He is the living God, the unchanging One. Oh, how therefore we should confide in Him, and in our darkest moments never lose sight of the fact that He is still and ever will be the living God!
Be assured, if you walk with Him and look to Him and expect help from Him, He will never fail you. An older brother who has known the Lord for forty-four years, who writes this, says to you for your encouragement that He has never failed him. In the greatest difficulties, in the heaviest trials, in the deepest poverty and necessities, He has never failed me; but because I was enabled by His grace to trust Him He has always appeared for my help. I delight in speaking well of His name.
Luther was once found at a moment of peril and fear, when he had need to grasp unseen strength, sitting in an abstracted mood tracing on the table with his finger the words, “Vivit! vivit!” (“He lives! He lives!”). It is our hope for ourselves, and for His truth, and for mankind. Men come and go; leaders, teachers, thinkers speak and work for a season, and then fall silent and impotent. He abides. They die, but He lives. They are lights kindled, and, therefore, sooner or later quenched; but He is the true light from which they draw all their brightness, and He shines for evermore.
“One day I came to know Dr. John Douglas Adam,” writes C. G. Trumbull. “I learned from him that what he counted his greatest spiritual asset was his unvarying consciousness of the actual presence of Jesus. Nothing bore him up so, he said, as the realization that Jesus was always with him in actual presence; and that this was so independent of his own feelings, dependent of his deserts, and independent of his own notions as to how Jesus would manifest His presence.
God Is Always Good
By: Katie Faris
Lee en español
“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 (ESV)
Motherhood isn’t what I expected.
It’s a whole lot more — more joy and more sorrow.
While I know that being a mom is a wonderful calling, this role has also exposed my heart to the wounding arrows of pain and grief. From newborn-feeding issues to my children’s serious medical diagnoses, my motherhood journey has included detours I never expected.
Maybe you navigate a child’s special needs, a teen’s rebellion or your own unique sorrows of motherhood.
These are painful realities in our broken world, and all the “feels” travel with them. Sadness, fear, anxiety, anger, disappointment and so many more unwelcome guests appear on our hearts’ doorsteps.
Yet when life plays out differently than we hoped, in the big and the small, and our feelings are strong, sometimes we don’t feel God’s presence. Our sorrows can lead us to wonder, Where is God, and is He still good?
God designed us to feel deeply, which is wonderful, but our emotions aren’t reliable. We don’t live in Eden, and our bodies, relationships and circumstances experience the impacts of sin. Especially when life is difficult or unpredictable and we add some hormones — our feelings are changeable.
But here’s good news for our fluctuating hearts:
God is still good, whether we feel like He is or not. Because He is good (and powerful and wise and all His other attributes), we can trust Him, even in our suffering.
The apostle Paul wrote in our key verse, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
In other words, the whole Bible was written for our instruction and encouragement. Why? So that even when we feel sad, confused or any number of other things, we might have hope.
When our feelings scream loudly, we need bedrock truths about God, and those are found in His Word:
1. God is with us even when He feels far away. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, ESV)
2. Challenging circumstances don’t mean God has forgotten us. “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace … will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10, ESV)
3. Whether it feels like it or not, God is always good. “The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” (Nahum 1:7, ESV)
Sisters, when life goes smoothly, it’s easier to say that God is good. However, when life is hard, it takes faith to trust Him. But it’s our faith — even a little faith — that pleases God. (Hebrews 11:6)
Feeling (or not feeling) something doesn’t make it true. If I’d relied solely on my emotions when my newborn struggled to gain weight or my children were diagnosed, I don’t know where I’d be today. By God’s grace, the Holy Spirit used Scripture to encourage me and give me hope. He can do the same for you today.