Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Your compassion
blot out my transgressions. (Psalms 51:1)
Flippant I love you’s seem to have taken over. Rather than saving them for meaningful encounters, we spread I love you’s all over the place, nearly thoughtlessly – especially during Valentine season. Do you “heart” Facebook posts often? I do (even when Like is sufficient). When something rings true spiritually or if the post involves people for whom I feel affection, I’m super-quick to click the heart. How about you?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with spreading the love. But, I just wonder if we’ve cheapened the meaning by over using the term. Saying I love you is much easier than showing I love you. That leads me to contemplate our call of Christ to show His love and compassion to others. Are we genuinely compassionate?
Compassion motivates us to try to help those in physical or emotional need of some sort. We have concern and empathy for the misfortunes and sufferings of other people. Or at least, we should!
My most recent glaring contrast between compassion and the lack thereof was on a flight to California. My seat companion on one side (hubs on the other side) was a woman around my age. We struck up a conversation in which we found much common ground. She’s also a Christian, and we enjoyed instant rapport. How we like (quickly changed from love to like) to make new friends!
As much as I enjoyed the conversation on our flight, a comment by my new acquaintance was a deep disappointment. I had recently learned of a fellow Christian sister I’ll call Emmie (not her real name) who had experienced months of Cancer surgeries to the point of having around half of her face surgically removed. Emmie’s health and her personal story of great trauma were heavy on my mind (and in my prayers) due to the empathy I felt for her. I imagine you are horrified by her story as you read this, as well. As women, we feel for her. Deeply!
I met Emmie’s husband, a nearby pastor and writer, several years ago. In a conversation just before our trip to California, he explained the situation his wife was experiencing and asked for my prayers. Of course! I’ve never met Emmie, but as a woman, I have compassion for her in her loss and devastation. I cannot imagine it, can you? Her trial called for huge adjustments and life-altering disappointments, to say the least.
How do you look in the mirror and now see disfigured features…not who you were at all…not the woman you once were…a creation no longer considered pretty by society…possibly grotesque, even. Emmie is God’s creation still. Beautiful in His sight! Could she go out in public without great emotional pain and public rejection?
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:32)
For weeks after hearing of her situation, I prayed for dear Emmie and also her husband. How does a husband console his wife adequately here? How much love, compassion, patience, and care it must take to truly help the one he chose in wedded bliss years earlier to realize her value to him in spite of it all! I could only imagine all the areas of her distress and felt helpless to pray adequately. But, pray I did – and often, continually, as she was always on my mind – and so often since then.
As I sat beside my new friend on the flight that day, we quieted for a time for her to read her book. Me? I was silently praying again in anguish. As the airplane began its decent, my new friend and I started conversing again. I shared my anguish with her – expecting her to offer to pray, as well. But what I heard was so unexpected and without compassion at all. My new friend said (as if scolding me), “How depressing!”
As if to say, can’t you think of something positive to say? Why bring up something so sad? Can’t we pretend we are all good, and happy, and nothing bad happens ever?
I tell you, I am not over the encounter yet. My flight companion’s lack of compassion stunned me nearly out of my seat. I consider myself to be a positive person because I like to view my glass as half full. But, we all know that some people get a glass that’s half or completely filled with hard stuff to endure – through no fault of their own! Of course we see the positive side of most things. But some things call for true compassion, Christian care, love, and prayer.Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. (Lamentations 3:32) Click To Tweet
In the sadness of the moment, I realized my new friend needed to be included in my prayers. Clearly, this Christian sister was way off base. Are we so locked in our comfort that we’ve lost the ability for Christ’s love to shine through us in other ways than plastic positivity?
Has our counterfeit compassion become callousness?
Has reality TV infiltrated into Christianity
and traded Jesus’ love for fake reality?
Has social media brought enthusiasm for
the wrong things? Is it miss placed enthusiasm?
Let’s look at how Jesus demonstrated compassion. First of all, He had compassion for the sick, lame, and disabled. He healed them out of love and compassion! While we don’t physically “heal” others as Jesus healed, we can certainly pray for people to encounter Jesus for physical healing and soul healing, which brings me to the next point.
Jesus rejected no one and touched the afflicted through his actions, no matter their physical disabilities, illnesses, age, race, social status, the poor, the prosperous, the broken hearted, the confident, everyone. Jesus was involved with them. We should reach out and touch people in the way that Jesus did – and involve ourselves with others in need.
Most of all, Jesus had compassion for the lost.
How to Engage Others Like Jesus Exampled to Us
- Jesus calls us to help those in need. In the parable of the good Samaritan, he showed compassion for the hurting man (beaten by a robber) by paying the fees for his lodging and care while recovering from his injuries. Even with limited funds, we can always help. Time sitting by someone’s bedside is free – and valuable! Let’s not make finances an issue. Helping others doesn’t have to be about money.
- Reach out with compassion to the prodigal when they are willing to turn from sin and return to God. In their shame, the prodigal needs to know no sin is too big for God to forgive. Nothing is beyond the Lord. He loves them and needs us to demonstrate God’s love in genuine ways. Loving ways. Forgiving ways.
- Share our most precious gift – the love of Jesus. His life sacrifice redeems all who accept Him as Lord and Savior. Our task is to share our experience of Jesus with others. How else can we be relatable with people other than by showing compassion first and then share of ourselves?
Have you noticed the flippant I love you’s in our world of quick connections? Quick texts, social media, lack of time, etc., all lead us away from true connection with others. Do you agree we need to spend time together and truly love? We are so consumed with busyness these days. How do we get past the busyness and be sure we remain women of compassion and love? I’d like to hear your suggestions.
Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow! 🙂
Because He lives~