At times, after I get home, I turn on the TV just for background noise. The TV is on but I don’t actually tune in, so to speak. However, while someone was promoting a movie one time, they showed a clip where a Priest was teaching and unexpectedly, he said one of the most profound things I have ever heard. Here I was, just coming home and going about my usual routine while having no idea that my entire outlook and mindset about something that characterized my Savior would change me so dramatically. I was listening but then I heard…two entirely different things.
The clip continued while the Priest was emphatically professing that the real definition of compassion means “to suffer with” – not feel sorry for like we normally assume. The translation of compassion meant to actually hurt with another. To offer to hurt with them – to cry with them, to sit with them in times of silence or in times of listening, or in hours of talking and processing unimaginable hurt.
That’s what true compassion offers. It’s not to make a casserole or send a card while we go on with life. We may feel concern so we’ll check on this person here and there with little sincerity. On the other hand, we may be overwhelmed with pain but feel helpless and have no idea what to do. It just seems that we are either careless, filled with care or confusion. What do we do? What should we do? Whatever the case may be, it’s just not about what we do but how we do it. We’ve been taught to be mannerly and appropriate but not completely compassionate! We offer our sympathies or the obligatory, “let me know if you need anything”!
Perhaps we are sincere but it doesn’t go much deeper than that, in most cases. While we’re being honest, we certainly don’t want this period to last very long lest it become awkward or God – forbid, we feel guilty for our lack of investment. I confess to all of the above at times, but that one sentence changed my perspective thus, transforming me. This has been my biggest life lesson in these past three weeks during a life-altering event with my son’s accident. While caring for him I knew that nothing could be about me.
Nothing done or undone by anyone could creep in that would take my mind off the Lord and His healing work. I couldn’t take time to get offended knowing it could interfere with the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak to me or guide me “in the way I should go” and what I should do or say where Austin was concerned. This has been my plea, my hope and my prayer. I have succeeded and I have failed! Ta-da!
But through this process I’m learning that I can apply this compassion to others, and of course, I don’t know how any other person can compare to your own child, but it has to get pretty close if we are to truly abide in His unconditional love and thereby, act out of it – there's my challenge!
If love knows no bounds, it knows no scale of importance on our “special people” list. God is no respecter of persons. LOVE (Jesus incarnate) is what He HAS for every person and that includes His incomparable compassion that suffered FOR us and is forever with us. We can’t boast that we embody the love of God if we are not truly compassionate. If we hurt with and for others more, we could actually become selfless. With less of self we would begin to vanish along with our wants and needs and petty dislikes, differences and insolent behavior toward one another.
Simply put, compassion equals more God in us and through us.
Jesus taught using visuals so I envision a sink. The objective is to get the water from a pipeline up through the faucet then out into the sink. If we put the garbage down the drain instead of the disposal, where it belongs, it’s going to get clogged. Now, nothing will be working correctly or orderly because we let garbage in when we weren’t paying attention to the original objective thus, we stopped the flow of water. As a result, no one has any water, just the mess. When self is in control, then self gets all the attention and we cease to become vessels because we are filled with all the wrong things. Whether it’s fresh water or garbage, it can have an affect on others. We give what we are filled with. As John 10:10 says, “The thief came only in order to steal, kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
Certainly, we want all of that and the rivers of living water flowing into us and showering upon us. Naturally, we want all the blessings that filter from heaven’s reserve, however, there’s one undeniable issue, and it’s not just our supply. That supply is a refill to keep His fruit-bearing love flowing out of us right into others who are dry, thirsty and parched with pain.
The choice is ours. We can hoard our supply until we run dry or we get the refill and go. Having said that, we can no longer see compassion as a feeling. The truth is we must live with compassion as our intention.
The Good Samaritan isn’t a Bible story; it’s a parable of this true compassion to model and begs the question to each of us – Will you be the one to pass by, to just offer water or could this true compassion enable you and I to be the ones who feel the hurt, hold the hurting in their unsteadiness and weakness, dig deep into our souls as well as our pockets like the Samaritan did. Could we suffer with the wounded, attend to their injuries and take the water to weathered lips and help them drink from love overflowing?
Emmanuel means God with us. If He is with us in our suffering then compassion is asking the same.
Yes, there is a fountain…but it is “filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunge beneath that flood lose all their guilt and stains.”
It sounds like the Son of Man; suffering even with His last breaths of this true compassion, built that fountain…He was a carpenter after all.