Compassion for the Dusty

June 16, 2022

“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:13,14

Wikipedia informs us that 20%-50% of the dust in our homes is composed of human dead skin cells.

Gross! That fact alone is enough to motivate me to go grab a dust rag.

But before I pick up that dust rag, let me remind us of a valuable spiritual lesson:

We came from dust and one day soon, we’ll be nothing but dust again.

(I know that’s not very encouraging, but bear with me.) 

You see, the presence of dust is an ongoing reminder of the brevity and frailty of life. These microscopic particles point us back to how we were originally created by our Creator: “from the dust of the ground” (Genesis 2:7).  

Yet, one short chapter later, mankind rebels against God, resulting in catastrophic consequences for both humanity and the world at large. Under the curse of sin, the Lord says, “for dust you are and to dust you will return” (Genesis 3:19).  

And we don’t have to live very long to experience being dusty, do we?  

Each of us has a litany of physical and emotional weaknesses as evidence that we were formed from dirt.  Aches and pains, Sickness, Disorders, Anxiety, Chemical imbalances, etc., etc. 

On and on the list goes, increasing even more as we grow older. 

But most of all, we sense our dustiness spiritually, not just physically/emotionally. 

Those of us who are sincerely trying to live a godly life have to face the cold, hard facts. In countless ways, we fall short every day. Frankly, there are gaps, sometimes considerable, between who the Lord calls us to be and who we actually are. 

This is our dusty reality.  

But there is good news, like really good news. 

Our heavenly Father has “compassion” for dusty people, especially on “those who fear Him,” who have reverence for His holy name (verse 13).    

Compassion can be translated as “mercy” or “pity” and is used four times in the first fourteen verses of Psalm 103 (verses 4, 8, and twice in 13). It is the very first adjective used to describe the essence of the Lord’s character (verse 8). In other words, He doesn’t reluctantly muster up compassion as if it’s difficult for Him; He leads with it. It is central to who He is. 

And isn’t Jesus the very essence of the Father’s compassion toward us? Compassion compelled Jesus to take on dusty flesh, live a sinless life, and hang on a Roman cross for our sins. 

He is not surprised by our frailty or our spiritual waywardness. It’s why He came in the first place, to rescue sinful, dust-covered people.  

So, how do we respond to the amazing compassion of our God?

Receive – Take a moment to personally receive His compassion. His compassion isn’t just for everybody else. It’s for you too.   

Celebrate – Cry out with the psalmist, “Bless the Lord o my soul, all my inmost being, praise His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1).

Demonstrate –  Don’t be a container, but a conduit of compassion, carrying and distributing it to others. 

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some dusting to do. 

Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH