“For if He causes grief, then He will have compassion.” Lamentations 3:32
Have Compassion – The beauty of the Hebrew word raham is not found its translation as “compassion” but rather in its connection with pregnancy. It’s the umbrella of meaning that shows us the real picture. What does compassion look like? Raham tells us that compassion looks like the protection found in a mother’s womb. The same word is used for both meanings, and not by accident. If God wanted you to see just how intimate, how complete and how loving His compassion is, what better image could He give you than the picture of a fetus, safely held in the womb.
But there is still more. Raham applies to those relationships that have a natural bond, a connection between the two parties that is obvious and deep. Just like a mother and her unborn child. Raham tells us that God feels a “natural birth connection” for us. After all, He made us. We are His deliberate creation. How much more intimate can it get!
But still there is more. Raham is particularly used when mercy is shown for the helpless. It is the word for compassion by a “superior” for an “inferior” in desperate need. Now the picture of an unborn child is even more dramatic. What is more helpless than a child in the womb? What is less able to defend itself, to speak for itself, to care for itself? The mother must provide everything necessary for life. The unborn child cannot do one single thing for itself. And that, says God, is the right picture of compassion. Helplessness. Total dependence. Absolute trust. Compassion is nothing less than carrying the child until birth. Compassion is giving life until birth.
God says that He is a God of compassion. He longs to carry us until birth. The imagery is distinctively female. God’s compassion is seen in the swollen belly of a pregnant woman.
And what have we done with this image? Are we carrying the helpless until they are born anew? Are we nourishing the desperate, the defenseless, the downtrodden? Are we the birth mothers of the weak and unable?
Or have we simply aborted compassion in order to take care of ourselves?