“And he (the Lord) passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin …’” Exodus 34:5-7.

This is God’s description of himself and the first thing he says is that he is compassionate. From there he wants us to know he is gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love. I wonder if these were the first thing you learnt about God?

The dictionary definition of compassion is: “Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it” (yourDictionary.com).

Bruce Marchiano, the actor who played Jesus in Matthew (The Visual Bible) describes compassion like this: “I understood what the word ‘compassion’ means when it comes to Jesus Christ. I understood that it isn’t just feeling sorry for people; it’s a heartbreak so intense, so deep it’s like your gut is getting ripped open. It is a heartbreak that screams in utter agony for the needless, pointless pain of people – people who need only turn to Him.”

This isn’t just a general description of how God feels about hurting people. It’s a description of how God feels about you and me right now. He feels whatever we are going through and he seeks to relieve our pain. Yet often our pain seems more comfortable than the cost of allowing God into the deep recesses of our hearts to do his restorative work. We get used to emotional pain. We learn to live with it.

Let’s turn our thoughts to God, focus on his compassion and graciousness and allow him access to our hearts. Then we will find peace and healing for our souls.