February 4, 2019

365 Days of the Great Names of God, Day 66: God of Compassion

God of Compassion

"The Lord said, 'I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering." (Exodus 3:7 NIV)

As I study God's names and search for representative Scriptures, I usually consult several different translations and paraphrases to help me gain a better understanding of a particular name.

Some Scriptures demonstrate the consistency of God's great love letter: a key word will be the same across the board from a dozen different sources. 

Other Scriptures illustrate the rich complexity of God's inspired message. Such is the case with today's key verse. When I originally read this in the New International Version, I was struck by the fact that God was "concerned" about His people's suffering. (And here it is important to note that God was not concerned because He didn't know what to do about that suffering: He was concerned because He is a tenderhearted God whose great heart hurts when we hurt.) 

Other renderings of this verse, though, guide us toward slightly different understandings of God's reaction to the cries of the Israelite slaves...a reaction we can fully expect Him to have to our cries. 

God "understood" (CEB). 
God "took notice" (CSB).
God "acknowledged them" (CJB).
God "knew" (ESV).
God "had respect unto them" (KJV).
God "knew their condition" (RSV).
God "took heed of them" (TMBA).
God "had concern for them, that is, he loved them" (YLT).

I believe these varied translations more fully illuminate God's perspective toward suffering. He cares about it, and He is moved by it. And, as this beautiful contemporary hymn by Keith and Kristyn Getty reminds us, He then sends us out to demonstrate His concern, His respect, His understanding to the world around us. God shows His compassion to us; we show it to others. By any interpretation, this is one of the sweetest songs we'll ever sing.

"What boundless love,
What fathomless grace
You have shown us, O God of compassion!
Each day we live
An offering of praise
As we show to the world Your compassion."

("Compassion Hymn," Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Stuart Townend, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMR85VnEluM.)

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I'd love to hear from you! Feel free to tell me what you really think. Years ago, I explained to my then-two-year-old that my appointment with a counselor was "sort of like going to a doctor who will help me be a better mommy." Without blinking, she replied, "You'd better go every day." All of which is just to say I've spent some time in the school of brutal honesty!