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God's Compassion
Photo:Laurin Rinder
The Jewish scriptures use a powerful metaphor for God—one that is too often overlooked in today's realms of male-dominated, patriarchal religious life. Notice the wording—God is speaking here:

"Is Israel my dear son?  My darling child?
For the more I speak of him, the more I do remember him.
Therefore my womb trembles for him;
I will truly show motherly compassion upon him."  (Jeremiah 31:20)

Here embedded in ancient Jewish tradition is a profound picture of God as a mother whose womb quivers and moves and trembles in passion for her child. This, notes the prophet Jeremiah, is exactly how God feels for Her children. That metaphor is the root of the word "compassion"—when God's womb moves on behalf of creation.  

And as the scriptures go on to describe, when Mother God's womb moves for Her children, She acts in nurturing ways, willing the well-being of her children. And when She sees them being threatened or abused, She becomes extremely passionate in their defense (hence the wilderness warning, never get between a she-bear and her cubs).

Parental Metaphor

Jesus picked up this parental metaphor and applied it to his picture of God. He also gave the unusual term of "daddy"—abba—to God. Emerging from his ongoing personal experiences with God, Jesus described God using the rich associations of these metaphors from scripture that portray God as life-giving, nurturing, embracing, caring, defending, providing, compassionate to the "nth" degree.

Jesus put it this way: "If even as evil parents you know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him" (Matthew 7:11).

My confidence level in God goes up when I see God in these terms. I learn to trust God more, to believe that God wants my very best. Imagine how living more and more fully with this paradigm could transform my everyday life!

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Greg Nelson. Copyright © 2009 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from The New Living Translation ©.

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