Friends, I woke up Sunday morning feeling rather down. There were things on my mind, feelings to work through and a tiredness that came from months of emotion pushed aside and change, yet to be dealt with.
"Perhaps I should stay home from church...I don't really want to talk to people," was a strong voice within me.
But thankfully my husband and I have established the routine of Sunday morning church. It is the place where my mind moves off me to where God is and his perspective seems to open up to me.
Walking into church I greeted a friend who has often confided in me about some ongoing, intense needs in her family. In the sanctuary we sat in front of a man whose wife has a very serious chronic illness. Over across the aisle a set of grandparents wait under very precarious conditions for their adopted grandchild to be allowed to come home. After church a friend asked me to pray for her as she has just been diagnosed with cancer. She doesn't ask for healing. Instead she asks for joy and a new closeness to Jesus. Another friend is moving soon - her whole life turned upside down as she answers the call to follow Jesus.
Of course I see the contrast between what I felt earlier ( a little down) versus some pretty big things. Had I stayed home though, I would still be feeling down. Nothing would have changed. But in the service I found a new perspective.
It was embedded in the sermon. The guest pastor was talking about the prodigal son and was just at the part when the dad comes running because he sees that his son has returned home. "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." The pastor zeroed in on the word compassion which means, yearning from the gut.
Then he told us that in the Greek, this use of the word compassion was only used in reference to Jesus. This kind of compassion only comes from God.
We all long for compassion when we are hurting. And it seems there is only one way to get it.
I close my eyes and imagine God yearning for me and the friends I saw that morning. He sees us when we are still far away and he yearns from the gut for us to remember him, to turn back. He knows. He knows the prodigal part of me that wants her own way. He knows the sadness that lodges itself inside and he longs to restore.
We are known and yearned for. We are wanted and there is a party being prepared. for. us.
Ah..this is why I believe. God knows. We are not alone. We are not orphans with no one to touch our faces or to hold us close. From feeling down to a cancer diagnosis, God knows and he yearns to throw his arms around us with understanding that is followed by a welcoming with joy and celebration! I love living in that embrace.
Needless to say I am glad I got out of bed and went to church. I am restored, ready for a new week. Firmly in the gaze of God, my friends stand known as well. I trust Him for them. I also find the desire to pray for and show some of my hurting friends a compassion that only comes from my Father - who is so very fond of us all.
For what do you need compassion today?