We have all done dumb things in our lives. One of the dumbest things I ever did occurred when I was a junior in high school. My family was out of town, and I was left behind to housesit. I invited about ten guys over to the house, and we foolishly decided to terrorize the town that evening by leaving stinky presents on people’s welcome mats. Two of those “gifts,” however, ended up on the bottom of a frenemy’s pool.

About three days later, I received a call from a mother who was distraught because her husband and two youngest children became ill after coming into contact with the contaminated water. She believed that I was to blame, and she told me that if I refused to admit my role in what had transpired that she would have a sheriff standing on my front porch the day my family returned from their trip. She had done her research.

My heart jumped to my throat, and I immediately came clean. Although I had not actually thrown those putrid boxes in the pool, I was certainly guilty by association. Several days passed between that phone call and my family’s arrival home. Though I had already confessed everything to my parents over the phone, I dreaded seeing my father’s face and feared whatever consequences he might choose for me. To my surprise, when he finally arrived home, he did not berate me or ground me. Perhaps he sensed that I had already punished myself enough with guilt and worry.

Typically, mothers are thought to be nurturing and compassionate, whereas fathers are thought to be exacting and stern. Paul essentially utilizes this dichotomy in describing his ministry among the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:7-12). As such, we might be surprised that Psalm 103:13 reads the way it does: “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” A father, not just a mother, is capable of compassion. A good father knows when to deal gently and understandingly with his children.

Today I will…think of a time when my father showed compassion to me and consider how that moment in time reflected the compassion of God. If I am unable to recall such a moment, I will read Psalm 103:8-14 and Lamentations 3:22-23 and bask in the wonder of my Heavenly Father’s merciful and ceaseless compassion.