Henri Nouwen’s Letters to Marc about Jesus (DLT, 1988) is a series of seven letters written to his nephew, Marc, in which he seeks to explain the essentials of the Christian faith. In the third letter he explores the idea of Jesus the compassionate God. In particular, he notes the role of suffering in life and in the Gospel and how it can make a positive contribution by provoking care and concern.
He points out that Jesus encountered the realities of suffering and death “with his eyes wide open”, adding that: “Finding new life through suffering and death: that is the core of the good news. Jesus has lived out that liberating way before us and has made it the great sign.”
We tend not to see suffering and death as positive and desirable – but without them we would not be human. We need to be able to deal with the difficult, and compassion is certainly one of the hallmarks of the Gospel.