“'For a brief moment I deserted you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing anger for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,' says the Lord, your Redeemer.” (Isaiah 54:7-9)
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:14-18)
Anger, bitterness, envy, and resentment are tied almost exclusively to people closest to us. In a counseling session, I do not expect to hear complaints about a random boy’s lazy behavior in Kazakhstan or a husband not taking out the trash in Shanghai. We do not have any connection or expectations for these people.
The closer the relationship, the stronger the emotional cords that bind our comfort and hopes. We take offense because we expect so much more than we receive. Connectedness, therefore, is necessary for offense and also for the opposites of love, mercy, and compassion.
As we meditate on God’s love for us during the Christmas season, contemplate His compassion and its corollary of connectedness. Through the incarnation, God united the infinite with the finite eternally. New Testament writers’ descriptions include God taking on flesh, a lowly position, suffering every temptation and death on a cross. All this was given while “we were yet sinners.” Such amazing love and compassion could not have a less significant and intimate connection with us.