Father of Compassion

The bite in the air this past week filled me with dread. My favorite season is coming to a close, and fall has officially made its arrival.

I realize I am not in good company in my displeasure about the changing seasons.
 
My roommates are filled with excitement, and between the cinnamon broom that appeared in the living room and the loaves of pumpkin bread already filling the oven, our home could do any fall-themed Pinterest board justice. Fall harkens the arrival of football and sweaters and spooky movies.

It isn’t the season itself I’ve been dreading, though. Fall is going to look very different this year.
 
In the past few months, my family has experienced one tragedy after another beginning with the sudden passing of my grandfather on my mom’s side. A few weeks later, my grandmother on my dad’s side passed away as well. Since then, my family has been under what seems like a black cloud of grief as other losses have occurred and we continue the long process of healing.

With the changing weather, my mind turns to the holidays and I am inundated with memories. Thanksgiving will be painful. Christmas will be unfathomable.
 
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am overcome with gratitude to have had 21 years with all of my grandparents. I am extremely fortunate to be experiencing loss for perhaps the first time this late in my life when others have experienced greater losses earlier.
 
However, when I was asked to write about a new, fun place the Holy Spirit has taken me recently, I still felt unqualified. There hasn’t been a ton of new and fun in my life during the past few months, and I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. This year has been tremendously hard for everyone. Between a pandemic that has taken the lives of over 200,000 people in our country alone and a fight for racial justice that has drawn national attention to the very broken systems that have been perpetuating discrimination for decades, I think it’s safe to say that none of us are alone in feeling a bit downtrodden.

So I don’t think the Holy Spirit is taking me somewhere particularly fun these days. I do think I am being taken somewhere deeper.
 
After months of pain - facing it, wrestling with it, struggling to accept it - I am understanding that there is dignity in suffering, and God is present in my grief.

‘You are the God who shows up.’ This has been my refrain.
 
And He has.

A truth about the Holy Spirit that I have been reminded of recently is that as God’s personal presence rests with His people, the Holy Spirit imparts power to them.
 
Grief also has reminded me of my reliance on the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul writes this:  

"the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…" - 2 Corinthians 1:3-12

He describes the type of pressure they were under as ‘far beyond [their] ability to endure’ to the point where they ‘despaired of life itself,’ but Paul has hope for their future. Why?

Because God is a compassionate Father and the God of all comfort.

Let that sink in. There is so much refreshment in knowing our God is a compassionate Father and the God of all comfort.

In The Message translation of the Bible, Eugene Peterson states, “Perhaps the greatest mystery in suffering is how it can bring a person into the presence of God in a state of worship, full of wonder, love, and praise.”

I have found this to be true in my life over these past few months, because while there has been anguish, it hasn’t felt cruel. It has allowed me the opportunity for reflection, and with any amount of loss comes perspective, whether we want it or not.

Loss forces us to take a good, honest look at where we are in our lives, to look around and take stock. While my family has been mourning, we’ve also been pulling close. This is grief at its best. I have never been able to imagine what would happen to my family after my Papa passed away. I never expected that the family would pull together like a net of protection around my Nana, who lost the love of her life and will sleep in an empty house for the first time in her life at 86 years old.

My grandfather was the realest expression of God’s love personified for me on earth. This is what God has continued to reveal to me during these past months, and with this realization, there has been peace. He was a fierce protector of his family. He believed I could do no wrong (which simply isn’t true and a grace I am undeserving of), but he also nudged me to be the best version of myself, speaking life over me so I wouldn’t live in fear. These are the characteristics of my grandfather where I see God reflected, and there is comfort and real joy in realizing that the way I have been loved by my Papa is the way we continue to be loved by the Lord. Actually, we are loved that exquisitely and more.

Author | Madison Davis

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