Scripture Focus: Psalm 103:13-16
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
Reflection: God Loves Mere Mortals
By Erin Newton
I came across a poem recently by Donna Ashworth called “Joy Chose You.” The opening lines read: Joy does not arrive with a fanfare on a red carpet strewn with the flowers of a perfect life.
The words captured the beauty of joy in the midst of the harsh reality of imperfection. I was struck later by the words of Psalm 103, “The Lord has compassion… for he remembers that we are dust.” How does our mortality relate to divine compassion, I wondered. Is it not also true that compassion does not arrive with fanfare or among those with a perfect life?
The psalmist begins with praise— Bless the Lord! The psalmist recounts all the reasons we praise God. He forgives and he heals. He redeems and he crowns. He satisfies and he renews. All of this and we are mere mortals.
As each year passes, we are reminded of our mortality whether it is a new diagnosis for ourselves or a loved one buried within the earth. Only in our fearless youth are we less aware of how not immortal our bodies are. We feel each new ache and see each new wrinkle. Our minds sometimes fade and memory lags.
But despite our weakness, frailty, and mortality— divine compassion envelops our lives. It does not care that we are fading flowers and withering grass. God’s compassion for us is not measured by our fitness or vitality. The poem also said, “Joy cares nothing of your messy home, or your bank balance, or your waistline.” And neither does compassion.
We are not made to earn God’s compassion. There is no standard to which we must attain before compassion is given to us.
We are mortals living a very human life. Our emotions will get away from us. Our faith will be shaken. We will question and complain. We are the Jobs and the Noahs and the Miriams. God knows this. Compassion is still given.
The psalmist often calls the recipients of divine compassion, “those who fear him.” That is not to say those who reject God are cut off from his compassion. God so loved the world. Compassion stands ready, perhaps just ignored or unembraced.
But rest assured, beloved, you do not have to earn God’s love. Your mortality does not diminish divine compassion. The days the flesh “wins out” do not diminish divine compassion. God loves you.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.10
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