I have always loved pictures painted, drawn, or photos taken. Currently, I am taking a photography course and it has opened my eyes even more to the beauty and the story (ies) within each picture. As I read the Bible I realize there are pictures of God, of man and even videos (so to speak) of God and man together. I would like to present some to you. In my photo album of God these are filed under compassion and love.
Snapshots of Compassion
Picture this: A man is dressed in dirty clothes with holes and shreds. As we approach we see he is disfigured and has scaly, crusty white patches on his arms. Some of his fingers are missing, People begin to move away from him and murmur sounds of disgust.
Then we see a young man and a small group of his friends nearing the man. The man calls out something. He is calling out for help. His friends shrink back, but the young man moves forward and reaches out and touches the man. Almost instantly, we see the man’s flesh restored to normal. His fingers are whole. His skin is not scaly and crusty, but smooth and new. Onlookers, still at a cautious distance, gasp. The man in tatters praises God.
Maybe this is what it was like when Jesus looked on the leper with compassion. This photo is found in the gospel of Mark in chapter 1, we read of the incident in which Jesus looked upon a leper with eyes of compassion and a will to help him.
“A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. Mark 1:40-42.
I love the part that says the Son of God was “moved with compassion,” and “I am willing.” It is reassuring to know that God sees me with eyes of compassion, and that He is willing to help me. On the days when I feel like a leper on the sidelines of life, ignored, cast off, weighed down in my sin, or hurt by another’s sin; I pull out this picture and see God and His compassion. It reminds me of the truth about God and me. I return the photo to the album and move forward with new courage, faith and strength.
Snapshot: A Guilty Woman
There is a small crowd. Men’s angry voices can be heard. Wait! They have stones in their hands. Who is that in the middle of the circle? A women partially clothed is cowering in the dirt. A young rabbi looks on the scene with sadness and indignation. He enters the ring and scratches something in the dirt. Men drop stones and turn away. He turns to the woman, and speaks gentle words of forgiveness and direction. She rises and returns home. (See John 8:1-12).
When I am distraught about my sin, about wrestling with overcoming it, and failing; I pull out this snapshot of truth and am encouraged. Knowing that God views my distress through eyes of compassion helps me trust in Him, stand up, and move forward.
Snapshot: Men with Hard Hearts
The next picture was taken on the Sabbath in the synagogue. The synagogue was a great location for a picture. It was the focal point of the Jewish religious community. People went there to hear the law of God read and discussed.
In this picture we see men sitting, some are in the chief seats and there is a commoner seated on the floor. If we look closely at the expressions we see critical eyes and cold hard stares of the men in the “chief seats.” The man seated on the floor has a withered hand. Look closely at the picture and you will see sadness and fear in his eyes.
Also in the picture is a young rabbi who is looking with compassion on the man with the withered hand. He calls this man forward and heals him. In the next photo we see indignation and grief on the young rabbi’s face while we see anger and hatred on the faces of the men in the chief seats.
It is said that after this compassionate healing took place, the men of the chief seats met in a group and conspired to kill the young rabbi. (See Mark 3:1-6)
I love the fact that Jesus’ compassion for the man leads Him to act on his behalf even when it posed a danger to Himself. While Jesus felt compassion for the man with the withered hand, He felt deep sadness at the hardness of heart of the other men. Seeing this picture of God helps me to trust Him. He is righteous and has a sense of justice. I can feel safe in confiding my hurts and problems to Him. He stands up to evil and champion my cause.
What’s in Your spiritual Wallet?
The compassion of God is well documented in the scriptures. Jesus manifests the character and nature of God to us (Col. 1:18; John 1:1-3). As we read the gospels we see pictures of God’s compassion.
When I was younger it was the custom for people to carry a wallet for their cash, but also most of these wallets had a section of plastic holders for pictures. Usually people put pictures of their family and close friends. It was a reminder to them of their loved ones and they could whip it out to give others a true description of their family and friends.
It is important to picture these truths about God in our minds and carry them with us in the wallet of our hearts.
In times when I am discouraged; feeling hurt and alone; misunderstood; let down by others; weary and tired of life, or guilty of sin, I pull out these truths of God. I look at them carefully. I put my faith in God anew and trust His compassion for me. I am reminded I am not alone. I have a Father who understands, who cares and whose compassion is active in my life.
I urge you to read the Word of God, find and keep pictures of God in your spiritual wallet.
“I will rejoice and be glad in Your steadfast love, because You have seen my affliction;
You have known the distress of my soul.” Psalm. 31:7