Father of Compassion

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When you are in pain, turn to the Father of compassion first. Then, let God reproduce his compassion in you so that you may comfort others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the father of medieval English poetry, while William Shakespeare is the father of English playwrights. Eli Whitney was the father of the cotton gin and modern mass production, and Thomas Edison was the father of modern inventors. Thomas Jefferson was the father of the Declaration of Independence, while George Washington was the father of the American republic. Martin Luther was the father of the Protestant Reformation, while William Tyndale was the father of the English Bible. Everybody, it could be said, is the father of something.

What does it mean to be “the father.” The biological realm offers the easiest comparison—to “father” means to bring forth, or 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. Certainly this is true in the human and animal kingdoms—but it is true in non-biological domains as well. Look at the list above—how likely is it that Martin Luther could have brought forth the telephone, Thomas Edison the world’s greatest plays, or William Tyndale the cotton gin? Not likely, because fathers can only bring forth what they already are.

That is why the God of the Bible—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—is called by the apostle Paul “the Father of compassion.” Compassion, also translated as merciful lovingkindness, is that internally-generated initiative that causes God to reach out to the hurting and give them comfort. “Our God is full of compassion,” “Your compassion is great,” and “The Lord . . . has compassion on all he has made,” declared the psalmists (Pss. 116:5; 119:156; 145:9). But “father of” has another implication. Like all modern inventors who owe their heritage to Thomas Edison, God wants there to be many more like him who extend compassion to others. Paul says that God comforts us so that we may comfort others.

When you are in pain, turn to the Father of compassion first. But don’t let compassion end there. Let God reproduce his compassion in you so that you may comfort others. There is only one “father of” anything—but there should be many descendants.

God’s Promise to You: “Your pain will never exceed the depths of my comfort.”

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