Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Worship Wednesdays: Compassion

“Jesus wept.” John 11:35

Because I am a history enthusiast, I continually seek out places where I can learn about the events that have shaped and molded our legacy. Over the weekend, my wife and I visited the Oklahoma City National Memorial site. I cannot fully articulate the feelings that overwhelmed us as we walked around the site which evoked the memories of that tragic day on April 19, 1995.

What captured my attention was a monument erected across the street from the memorial. Built next to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, the monument is a continual reminder of the tragedy on our nation’s soil. It is a statue of Jesus with his face buried into His hand. In front of the statue is a wall with 168 bricks missing from the wall each representative of the 168 lives lost on that day. Our nation wept with those families who lost their loved ones.

As I stood before the sculpture of Jesus, my mind went to the text in John where Jesus wept for His people. In John 11, we are introduced the seventh and final sign of Jesus’ miraculous ministry on earth. Word came to Jesus that his friend Lazarus had passed away, and messengers were sent to inform Jesus of Lazarus’ death. Instead of Jesus going right away to Bethany, he waited four days. Four days!

“…if you had been here…” Though appearing as a condemnation, Martha expressed her grief and anguish by questioning Jesus’ tardiness, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). Though Jesus could have rightly rebuked her lack of faith, He reassured her that death was no match for He was “the resurrection and life” (John 11:25). Then Mary approached Jesus with the same question as Martha, “…if you had been here…” (11:32).

We must not judge Jesus’ delay as a lack of compassion. Though we often expect answers and solutions immediately, Jesus does not work on our timetable. Often we will view His delays as signs of aloofness and lack of concern, but we must never forget that we serve a merciful and compassionate God. Though we might not face a tragedy as heartrending as the Oklahoma City Bombing, our adversities are just as real and painful. When we sit in front of the doctor who relates to us the bad news or come home only to discover the emptiness of a home, we experience the pain like a kick in the stomach. However, never let us forget, the God we serve is a compassionate God who has not nor will He ever forsake us.

“Just as a father has compassion on {his} children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.” Psalm

“When Jesus went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and He felt
compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He
began to teach them many things.” Matthew 6:34

“We count those blessed
who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of
the Lord's dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is
James 5:11

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