A Bible Reading: Psalms 103:8-12
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse, nor will he harbour his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
We carry many images of God around with us in our heads, and the images we carry will affect the way that we live our lives; the way that we respond to God and the way that we respond to each other. If you were to write down your thoughts on the nature of God, what words would you use?
Our overriding image of God will probably fall into one of two groups. We either see him as a vengeful God or as a loving God. We may distinguish these as the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. And yet, in these words from Psalm 103, which follow on from yesterday’s ‘Thought for the Day’ and were written 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus, King David’s overriding image of God is as a God of compassion and love.
I couldn’t count the number of times I have been asked, when things go wrong, when someone is seriously ill maybe, ‘What have I (or they) done to deserve this?’ And yet David is quite clear, God does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. And praise God for that!
Using images he probably remembers from being a shepherd boy, alone on the hillside, David says of God’s forgiveness ‘as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us, and of God’s love ‘as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those that fear him'.
Things go wrong, people get sick and die, not because of the things we do, but because we live in a fallen world. And when we suffer, our God of compassion suffers with us, and his abounding love surrounds us.
Father God, help me to live today in the reality of your abounding love and your complete forgiveness. May all those who suffer today, whether in mind, body or spirit, know that they are surrounded by your love and compassion.
Bless the Lord, my soul