Read Hosea 11
Focus on verse 8
Compassion is the force that causes a person to give a stranger the $20 dollars he or she was saving because the stranger appeared to need it more. It is the emotion that compels us to give our erring child another chance. It has many similarities to mercy, which is withholding the negative consequence one has earned. It also resembles grace, which is simply undeserved favor.
In today’s reading we get a sense of the Lord’s compassion for Israel; a nation that has abandoned Him, and essentially is giving God the middle finger in an act of rebellion. They have earned His anger, they have earned the consequences that are looming over them, yet the Lord’s compassion is clearly evident in the following words.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath. (v. 8-9)
It was this same compassion that drove God to ultimately send His only son Jesus Christ to live among a people who would reject and crucify Him so that through His sacrifice, we could be restored? Compassion, mercy, grace…none of these can exist outside of the context of love. To truly understand the love and compassion of God is beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend exhaustively. We get a little glimpse now and again that causes us to think we might understand. The clearest picture we currently have of the full extent of God’s love and compassion is the picture of the cross, where Jesus willingly chose to bear the consequences of our sin.
Furthermore, it is only as we begin to comprehend the extent of His love and compassion for us, and receive it, that we are able to extend that love and compassion to others.