PAIN FORGES OUR CHARACTER
Father of Compassion
Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the father of medieval English poetry, while William Shakespeare was the father of English playwriting. Martin Luther was the father of the Protestant Reformation and William Tyndale of the English Bible. Thomas Jefferson was the father of the Declaration of Independence, while George Washington fathered the American republic. Eli Whitney was the inventor of the cotton gin and the father of modern mass production, while Thomas Edison was the father of modern inventors. All these men are recognized as leaders in their specific areas of expertise.
But what do we mean when we say that these individuals were “the father of . . .”? The biological realm offers the easiest comparison—to “father” means to bring forth, to procreate. But fathers can’t, even if they want to, bring forth just anything. Fathers can only bring forth something of what they already are. For example, it’s unlikely that Martin Luther could have produced the cotton gin, Thomas Edison the world’s greatest plays, or William Tyndale the light bulb.
In Psalm 103, we read of an attribute that is resident in our God: fatherly compassion. David makes this point several times in the first verses of this psalm. Other psalms also declare that one of God’s defining characteristics is compassion (also translated as mercy): “Our God is compassionate” (116:5), “Great are Your mercies” (119:156), and “His mercies are over all His works” (145:9).
The apostle Paul changes the word order a bit when he calls God “the Father of compassion” (2 Cor. 1:3). Compassion is that internally generated initiative that causes God to reach out to the hurting and give them comfort. But Paul’s use of the term “Father of” has another implication. As modern inventors imitate the creativity and tenacity of Thomas Edison, God’s children are to follow His example by extending compassion to others.
God comforts us so that we may, in turn, comfort others. When you are in pain, turn first to the Father of compassion. But don’t let compassion end there. God is the Father of compassion; may there be many sons and daughters of compassion as well.
Your pain will never exceed the depths of His comfort.