Mornings at the Mission: The Patient Compassion of God

Each morning I offer a short devotion to the men under my care in the dorm. This is the spot where I share them with you, and keep a record of them for myself on the off chance I ever need them again.

 

bible_and_coffee
The Lord works vindication
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
    so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
    he remembers that we are dust.
(Psalm 103:6-14)
Have you every read Romans 7? In it Paul wrestles with himself… it seems like no matter how hard he tries he always caves in, doing the evil he does not want to do, and failing to do the good he does want to do. I wonder if you’ve ever felt like that? Like there is this one thing that keeps you locked up in the darkness and there’s no way out; like no matter how hard you try you can’t seem to rule your temper, control your addiction, say no to just one more drink… you feel like a failure with no way out. And if there is a God–which seems pretty far-fetched to you at the moment–surely he’s pissed and wants nothing to do with you. Surely he’s rolling his eyes in disgust… “there he goes again,” you can almost hear him saying, “giving in to the same old sin. What a mess.”

 

If that’s how you feel today, I have some good news for you. God is not disgusted with you. The Bible tells us that he “works for vindication and justice for all who are oppressed,” and that he “is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” It also tells us that he is patient and compassionate towards us, and–perhaps my favorite phrase in this Psalm–that he “remembers that we are dust.” God knows how frail we are. He knows that our flesh is strong, and that we don’t have the strength to overcome our vices on our own. That’s the beauty of the gospel: Even though God had every right just to abandon us to our self-destruction, he chose to intervene. He sent his Son to deal with our sin, paying the restitution perfect justice demanded, and securing the redemption of all who would believe–those whom he had set his love upon from eternity past. Now “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1), for as the Psalmist writes: “as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love towards those who fear him;” and “as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11-12).

 

Here’s some more good news: Redemption doesn’t stop with Justification. Once we have received Christ by faith our debt to God’s justice has been paid in full, but God isn’t done with us yet. He wants to see us transformed, he wants us to experience the wholeness–the shalom–he intended for creation before the fall happened back in Genesis 3. And so his Spirit works patiently within us, dealing with areas of woundedness in our hearts, applying his word as a healing balm, leading us into newness of life that we might more perfectly reflect the image of the God whose glory we were designed to magnify in harmony with all of creation.

 

If you belong to Jesus Christ through faith, you are eternally accepted by God, and no amount of failure can change that. He knows our frailty, and delights to demonstrate patience and compassion towards us, as he works within us to bring about a glorious restoration.
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