‘Will you tell daddy for me?’ These words begin to tell the story of a 17-year-old girl who is pregnant and she is asking her mother to tell her father. Being very close to her father and being ‘daddy’s little girl’, she knows he will be shattered. Mother agrees and drops the daughter off at a friend’s house as she tells her husband the news.
Meanwhile, the girl waits at the friend’s house being consoled and counselled. Then, suddenly, the girl sees the headlights of the car arriving. She runs to the bathroom and locks the door. But, the friend gently encourages her to come out and she does, trembling. She’s not afraid of her father’s anger. She’s afraid she will no longer be her father’s ‘little girl’.
Her mother comes in first, her eyes swollen with tears. And then he is there. The girl’s father doesn’t even stop to say hi to the friend, but goes straight to his daughter. He gathers her in his arms, holds her close and whispers, ‘I love you, I love you, and I will love your baby too.’
‘I’m sorry daddy. I love you so much.’
‘I know. Let’s go home.’
All fear is gone. The girl knows there are hard times ahead, but she also knows she is still daddy’s little girl. Knowing that, there is nothing she won’t handle.
‘filled with love and compassion…’ Luke 15:20
The Compassionate Father
We are continuing our look at the story Jesus told to explain to us what God, the Father is like. A boy comes to his father and wants his inheritance early. A terrible thing to do. He gets it and then leaves and wastes it all on ‘the good life’. Broke and hungry he decides to head home hoping, if lucky, to be hired as one of his father’s workers. Beyond his wildest dreams, his father welcomes him home, not as a worker but a son, and throws a huge party.
The father in the opening story is just like the dad in the story Jesus told. The boy in Jesus’ story messed up but everyday the father was patient, waiting. Every night father stayed awake yet no one ever saw his tears. No one saw the slumping shoulders as he gave into grief, ‘‘oh my son, please come home’.
Yet his love never ran out and one day…. he saw something! A familiar outline! He rubbed his eyes! Blinked! Looked again! Could it be! Then his heart starts to pound! ‘It’s my boy! He’s coming home! My son, my son!’
What is Compassion?
Both fathers loved their children so much that nothing could change that. They felt for their children and what they were experiencing. We are talking about compassion.
Literally, compassion means ‘to suffer with someone in their pain and distress’. It means to come alongside someone and feel what they feel. It’s far more than pity. It’s the engagement of both heart and hand. Heart – sharing in pain. Hand – reaching out to help.
It’s more actions more than words. It’s suffering love. The Greek word [the New Testament was originally written in Greek] has the connotation of ‘gut’ or ‘bowels’. It is profoundly felt even to the point of becoming physically ill.
This is how the Father felt towards his son. The way the father felt towards his daughter in the story above. It was not deep-seated anger coming to the surface. It was love and concern that made him sick to his stomach. So, he wanted to reassure his son/daughter he was ‘still daddy’s child’.
In the simple words, ‘filled with compassion’, Jesus is not just describing the father in the story but also telling us something about OUR Father in Heaven. Jesus is telling us God is not detached and absent. He is not apathetic, incapable of experiencing suffering. Rather, He’s a Father who feels what we feel and feels it acutely.
The Bible says that Jesus alone reveals the Father. He is the truest reflection of what our heavenly Father is like. If that’s true, then two words have extraordinary meaning. ‘Jesus wept’.
These words are found in the story in the Bible when Jesus arrives at the grave of his dear friend Lazarus. Upon seeing the grief in Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, it says Jesus wept. It was not a sad shedding of a few tears but rather, again in the Greek, a gut-wrenching expression of compassion and love for these two grieving sisters. Not for Lazarus, because he was about to raise him from the dead! You see, compassion involves action.
We have a God who weeps when we are suffering. He truly understands. He wants you home. He is filled with compassion. It’s an agonizing, suffering love He has for you. Like I said in an earlier post, Father is saying to you, ‘I don’t care where you are. I don’t care what you have done. I don’t care what you have become. I love you. Please come home.’ Just like the fathers in our two stories today.
The One Who Truly Understands
This is God, the Father revealed by Jesus. A compassionate Father who suffers with His children and for His children.
Maybe your experience with your earthly father was different. Maybe he was absent physically or emotionally. When you were hurting, no one there to protect you, help you, advise you, nor show you compassion. Me too. My dad died when I was six.
Good news is, you and I have a perfect Father in heaven. Jesus is showing us what He is really like. We can know God as Father and call Him daddy!
If you feel far away from God, remember the Father Jesus revealed in this story. He is waiting for you to come home. His heart is not full of anger and hatred towards you. Even if you have rejected or neglected Him.
His heart is filled with love and compassion, so please come on home. As you do, know this; His heart is filled with compassion. He understands. He is FOR you. His arms are open wide.
All you must do is accept His gift of forgiveness.
If not sure how to do that, explore http://www.gettingbacktomyfuture.com or write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are still His son or daughter.