Recently, my heart has been feeling really heavy about events that have been happening. Living in Thailand, the horrific situation in Myanmar is not too far away and daily news reports fill my newsfeed. Even nearer to us, upsetting things have been happening to some kids that the community centre reaches out to. How can we hope in the God of compassion?
Since the fall of Man, injustice has been rampant in the history of the world. In the face of all the gut-wrenching stories, what the enemy wants us to feel despair. He puts doubts in our hearts, such as “can we even do anything to help?” or “God can’t help His children in the midst of all these evil happenings”. When we give in to despair, we lose hope. When we lose hope, we will start to just let things be. That’s what the enemy wants from God’s children – he wants us to lose hope and do nothing. Having been involved in humanitarian missions and later community work for a decade, I definitely have felt tempted to despair. Often I find myself thinking that “there’s just nothing I can do.”
How do we counter such despair then? Where can we find our hope? In the book “Good News about Injustice”, Gary A. Haugen, former president of International Justice Mission, zoomed in on a few characteristics of God that could anchor us in our pursuit of justice in this world. One of which is that God is a God of compassion.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3 (NIV)
The English word “compassion” comes from 2 Latin words, “passio” and “cum”. While “passio” means “to suffer”, “cum” means “with”. So when we often say that God is a compassionate God, what we really means is that God “suffers with” us. When God witnesses people encountering difficult situations, He suffers right here with us. When God watches the people being abused in any part of the world, he suffers right there with them. He sees everything, He hears everything, and He is not far away. He understands every pain.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed…. He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.”Psalm 9:9, 12 (NIV)
What do we feel when we read the news every day? Often I feel sad and even angry at the crazy things that are happening in our era. How much more would God feel as He witnesses every single unjust situation that happens every day? As a holy God, He hates to see people suffer without justice. Jesus’ death on the Cross qualified Him to be the “man of sorrows, familiar with suffering”, and He “weeps with those who weep”.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”Galatians 6:9 (ESV)
Our God of Compassion
For me, knowing God as a God of compassion gives me hope to continue serving Him in an at-risk community and fighting against what is unjust in this world. I am also reminded of the many missionaries who went before us, refusing to give in to despair, not accepting the status quo of this world, and did something about it together with God. Indeed, one of the ways that God demonstrates His compassion for those who are hurting is through the action of His people.
That God is a God of compassion, a God who “suffers with” us – “is the unique and biblical hope that Christians can offer to a world groaning under the heartache of injustice and oppression. God has compassion on the victims of injustice all over the world, among all people, without favor or distinction. We will, through our acts of compassion, give witness to our belief that what the Bible says is true, or not”.
Reflections from a book titled “Good News about Injustice“.