5 The Lord is merciful and righteous;
our God is compassionate.
6 The Lord protects simple folk;
he saves me whenever I am brought down.
7 I tell myself, You can be at peace again,
because the Lord has been good to you.
8 You, God, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
and my foot from stumbling,
9 so I’ll walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
There’s a basic truth about compassion: we can’t ever give more than we feel we’ve received. It’s hard for someone who has not known empathic love to demonstrate it toward others. Compassion works like that: it flows from the inside out. But it has to begin with us.
Some have been fortunate to feel the compassion of both humans and God: a loving family, kindness and caring in childhood, a sense of the Spirit’s presence throughout their lives. Others have not had that same experience. Kindness, caring, and compassion may have felt very far away. When that happens, it’s easy to be convinced God is far from us too: in some heaven somewhere, but nowhere to be found here.
In truth, God is never far away. We know God “in the land of the living.” Our pain can obscure the presence of the Divine, for sure, but no matter how much we hurt, the good news is that there are infinite wellsprings of compassion in the heart of our Creator.
Our God loves us more than we can think, ask, or imagine. The psalmist has said it plainly: “Our God is compassionate.”
Our Savior can supply the things we have not been able to find elsewhere. And if we are willing to risk being open to it, the community of faith, Christ’s body here on earth, can restore our faith in people’s capacity for compassion and care. The Church, at its best, provides tangible proof of divine compassion, loving people exactly as they are, with the same love we find in the face of our God.
By Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
What blocks you from feeling compassionate toward others? Have there been, or are there times now, when you feel as though you’ve not received compassion or care when you’ve needed it? If you need to, bring this before God today and ask for reassurance that you are loved and cared for.
Prayer: God, we know that our own woundedness and hurt often cause us to be unable to look outside ourselves. Restore and heal us. Allow us to know your care and love so that we can love others out of the overflow of our spirits. Amen.