Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Dying Art of Compassion


A few days ago, a friend of mine joined us for Bible study. It was evident her heart was still breaking over the death of her 1 week old granddaughter. The rest of us - there was nothing we could say or do to make her feel better. Instead, we prayed with her, and for her, and more importantly - we suffered with her. This is what Compassion means - to suffer with. As her sisters in Christ - as her friends - as Christians - it was our responsibility, and our privilege, to be there with her and for her in her suffering.

In my God's Great Blessings Devotional for Jan 15 - 21, the virtue/blessing discussed was Compassion: For Healing, For Life, That Shares His Light, That Lives in Truth, For the Least, and In Action. I thoroughly loved the devotionals and scripture readings. Compassion is something I firmly believe in, and something I find missing from so many people. And yet, it is the one thing we can give regardless of the situation. It is one way we can help someone who's in pain. And, it is the one thing that can help another person turn things around.

A couple years ago, my then-17 year old daughter left me a note before she went to school to inform her father and I that she was pregnant. Naturally, we were not happy to hear this. It was sinful behavior on her part. But we suffered it with her. We stood beside her. We supported her as she made the decision to give her child up for adoption. I was in the delivery room when this baby was born, and held both him and my daughter. I was in her hospital room the day his new parents took him from my daughter, and I cried with her. Yes, she made a bad choice back then. I could have chosen to push her away and let her suffer on her own. But, I strongly believe that this is not what God would have wanted. I strongly believe that this would not have been Christlike.

A few years ago, a family my children were close to were evicted from their apartment. The family was very poor, and both children were mentally disabled. One night, the father snuck down into a community kitchen, and stole food intended for a party the next day. He took only enough to feed himself, his wife, and his kids. He was evicted.

My children, upon hearing this tale, simply asked "We know he did wrong, but, why evict him? The family he stole from can easily afford to replace the food taken... they could even give him all the food they made, and still easily afford to replace it. And obviously he can't afford to feed his family - how's he going to afford a new home for them?" They stated quite emphatically that even in our financially poor state, they would have found a way to pay for the food taken if the family would just be allowed to stay.

My heart swelled at hearing these words. As I already stated, compassion for others is one thing very important to me. It's one thing I have always tried to teach my children and show my children. Regardless of what sins a person commits, and how we feel about those sins (i.e. yes yes, hate the sin), we should always be willing to show compassion to another human. I know many people who read this blog don't agree with this. They feel that compassion is tolerance for sin. They feel that compassion is the way of the world, not the way of God. But they are so wrong.

How many parables did Jesus tell where compassion was at the center of the lesson? The Good Samaritan - where a Samaritan shows compassion to an injured man, when others had walked right past this man without a care. The Prodigal Son - where a father shows compassion to his son after the son had  dishonored him and squandered his father's wealth.

Or, there's the time when Jesus helps the Centurion who pleads with Jesus to heal his servant - a plea that was driven by compassion for the servant. And there's the time Jesus had compassion for those whom had been following him for days and had no food. God had so much compassion for each of us, even in our horribly sinful state, that He gave His Son so that we may live.

God is compassion, and we should all strive to be more compassionate. Why be compassionate? Some quotes from God's Great Blessings Devotional:

"It allows broken people to start healing again."
"What must I do to inherit eternal life? Do compassion, Jesus replies in his parable."
"Compassion allows God to bless us with His life."
"May our compassion for others be just as undivided, just as empowered - offered not for ourselves but for the blessing of us all."

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