The Lord’s Compassions
by Seattle ALC
“My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me. This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him. The LORD is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the LORD”. Lamentations 3:20-26
These verses were a part of my daily reading today. The book of Lamentations follows the book of Jeremiah and was written by him. He lived at the time in which the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the tearing down the walls that surrounded it, and so was the Temple. The place where the Lord had directed His people to worship, and the altar where the sacrifice for sin was made were no longer available to His people. Besides all of the destruction, the majority of his fellow citizens had been taken off as slaves to Babylon. Is it any wonder that this great prophet was given to lamentation? If ever there was a time in history of the feeling of hopelessness, this ranks among the top. The prophet had lost his peace.
The prophet wrote that his soul is humbled by remembering all that has taken place . Was this prophet looking only at what had taken place around him on a national level and what his own desperate circumstances were? This despair he experienced, is an honest expression of what he saw and felt around him. We will always find that in the scriptures, the honest confession of those that wrote the cannon of scripture. It is also important for us to examine where we find our peace. How do we know the voice of truth in the middle of what we see around us and experience within? We currently are experiencing circumstances that our generation has not seen. Will it lead us to fear, anger, and despair? Or will we recall to mind, as the prophet did, that by the Lord’s mercy we will not be consumed, that His compassion will not fail?
Compassion is a powerful force. Jeremiah expresses that the Lord’s “compassions fail not”. That naturally leads to the question, are there compassions that do fail? Human compassion is the only other expression of compassion that comes to mind. We are going to really stretch the limit of our imaginings, if we attempt to apply the word compassion to anything else in our world. Man has been given the gift of a living soul and a mind to learn about the world around us. In fact, been given the responsibility as stewards. Stewards not only of the material things, but even more importantly of the eternal soul inhabiting every person ever born and will be born on this planet. How important to have compassion! Yet we see our compassion disappear so quickly. Especially under the type of difficult circumstances facing us presently. Crisis seems to cause us to draw back into a self-protection, me first, mentality.
Compassion is defined in Webster’s 1828 dictionary as: “A suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. Compassion is a mixed passion, compounded of love and sorrow; at least some portion of love generally attends the pain or regret, or is excited by it. Extreme distress of an enemy even changes enmity into at least temporary affection.” Where do we find the ability or strength to have compassion?
The voice of Truth is the voice of the Holy Spirit. With that comes the work of God humbling man, as Jeremiah expressed: “ My soul hath them still in remembrance, and is humbled in me.” It is the voice of the Gospel pointing to Jesus as defining compassion. Revealing our hopelessly lost condition , dead in trespasses and sin. Revealing Jesus Christ taking our trespasses and sin to the Cross of Calvary and purchasing our redemption. Declaring to us that our sin has been paid! Giving to all that will believe, the power of the resurrection, that Jesus died and rose again, for us, for you! Supplying the same mercy of God, that the prophet knew. In Jesus, the Christ, we find the compassion poured out upon us. Providing for us the “sure dwelling, and quiet resting places” written of by the prophet Isaiah. “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever. And my people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings, and in quiet resting places;” Isaiah 32:17,18
When we have the peace that God gives us by His Grace, then we can look upon our fellow citizens of the world and extend to them the compassion what we have come to know. We will never do it in the perfection that Jesus did, but we have a place to go, to hope and to wait upon the Lord for strength as Jeremiah did. We can share our confidence in the God that created and preserves us in peace because His is a compassion that is new every morning! In the middle of great trial we can exclaim with the prophet, “great is thy faithfulness”.
Jesus promised that this voice of truth will remain with us and in us. John 14:16-17 “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
John 16:13 “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
The hope that the prophet calls to mind is the same hope we have for today, and also for tomorrow. In Jesus, is the revelation of the mercy or steadfast love of God. In Him is the compassion of our Heavenly Father expressed explicitly. He cares for and about us. He is defined as Love. His love and care for us is rock solid!
Paul on Mars Hill proclaimed this to all that would listen: “For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Acts 17:23-28
We need not worship an unknown god. We look to the One True God that is Eternal. He alone is able to secure our troubled hearts and preserve our souls for eternity! In Hebrews 13:8 we read:“ Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” May we be given strength to praise Him, even in this storm!
Let’s pray for one another and for the recovery of those that are ill. For the family’s that have lost loved ones. Remember also, all of our government leaders, Local, State and Federal Let’s especially pray for the medical personnel and first responders, they are in a difficult and dangerous vocation. They are all working to keep us out of harms way. May we all come to know and exhibit true compassion!
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