March 6, 2013

Compassion for loneliness and pain

My Internet browser gives a few headlines each morning. Today it linked to pictures of huge icicles in the city where my husband is working this week. As I looked at the pictures, a wave of loneliness washed over me. He has been flying to that place for 3-4 days a week, every week this year but one.

I am usually okay with being by myself, but after two months of this, it is getting stale. Then I read today’s devotional and the timing is perfect.

As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (Psalm 103:13)

Spurgeon says that God has compassion on our pain and loneliness. If my heart is breaking over anything, including  my transgressions, my Father longs to heal me, just as a parent longs to ease the pain of their child. As the reading says, God has reasons for allowing any sort of suffering and will use it for my good and His glory. Yet in the process, He feels compassion for me.

I tend to rate low on the compassion scale, but notice changes as I experience God’s compassion, more easily weeping for those who hurt and feeling tenderness instead of annoyance at those who sin. Even so, some forms of suffering do not awaken sympathy in me, yet for God, any suffering in His family touches His heart.

Being alone is tolerable, yet for some, it is terrible. Yet Jesus knows that too. Before He was crucified, He said to His disciples,

Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. (John 16:32)

The apostle Paul said the same thing as he awaited execution in Rome. He wrote how his enemies opposed him in and even his friends were not there with him, but he was not alone.

At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. (2 Timothy 4:16–17)

In what is called the Great Commission, Jesus told His disciples their life mission, but He also made a promise…

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20)

Christians are often without human companionship as we struggle with all kinds of sorrows. Jesus knew that we would feel abandoned at times and be lonely. Yet in His great compassion, He thought of a practical solution; regardless of our situation, none of His children are ever alone.

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