Sunday, July 12, 2015

Moved with Compassion

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about how God's intent is to conform us to the image of His Son, and that THIS is the "good" that all things work together for: Romans 8:28 must always be read with verse 29 to understand what that good is! What got me to thinking about that was the valley that a friend of mine is going through, with sudden and serious health problems going on in two different generations in her immediate family. (To read that blog post, click here.)

Friday past, that same friend got a frantic phone call from one of her grown children in a different province. Their sister (her daughter) had taken a bad turn. The message was to the point. "I think you'd better get over here." 

She contacted me right away and told me the news - the way any mom would tell a close friend that kind of news - in tears. My immediate concern was how I could help. She asked for us to look after her cat - I instantly agreed. The hospital was a 3-hour trip away, not cheap due to having to take a ferry to get there. But there was no question in her mind; she was going.

To make a short story even shorter, when she got to the hospital, she heard the news for herself. Her daughter had died while she was traveling to be with her. 

I got a three-word text as I was getting in the elevator at work to go home. "She is gone." 

I felt the earth sink a little beneath my feet. The room that I was in somehow had a hollow, "fish-eye" lens quality, and although there were people in it, they seemed to fade to the background. All that mattered was that my friend was hurting in a way that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy.

That set into motion a flurry of texts and communications back and forth with both her and the church family, along with vivid flashbacks of the day in October 2013 when I learned my own daughter had died. 

Photo "Sadness Woman In Friend's Arms"
courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at
I knew some of what lay in store for my friend now, and the one emotion I felt (and still feel) was compassion. That compassion only deepened as she discovered the following day that her aging mother (96 years old, recovering from a broken hip and hip replacement surgery) was failing badly and unable to return to her home. Basically, she was put in palliative care. It's just a matter of time, and she's not sure how much time her mom has left. Probably not much.

One devastating loss, and another one looming. My heart broke for her.

The word "compassion" literally means "to deeply feel alongside" - one feels another's pain, or sorrow, or joy, alongside (or with), the other person. 

When Jesus was on earth, one of the most common emotional states He experienced was compassion. But in every case, the Bible doesn't just say He felt sorry for people who were hurting. It says that Jesus was "moved with compassion" ... meaning that he did not just feel the emotion; it meant that He did something about it. He was moved. His compassion put Him into motion. He helped. He healed. He met needs. He visited. He comforted. He prayed.

He also said that He did nothing on His own, but only as the Father directed Him. So, operating in the Holy Spirit, He felt that feeling of compassion, and expected God's direction as to what to do, how far to go and when to stop. He got that, and obeyed it.

We have the exact same resource at our disposal as Jesus did, the same Holy Spirit that empowered and led Him to do all those amazing things. As He relied on the Holy Spirit (for leading and for empowerment) we can too. How amazing!! We can depend on the Comforter, the paracletos (Greek: the One called alongside to help - wait - that sounds a little bit like uh, the definition of compassion!) to lead and strengthen us to do His bidding. Every moment, every day, that same energizing power is ours. 

And we can use God's dynamite power, His own person (the Holy Spirit) to reach out to people as He leads. Why would we reach out to people? Well, I have a news flash for's not because we're "supposed" to!!!! It's because He loves us. Period!! Listen to Paul, "The love of Christ compels us..." (2 Cor. 5:14) It's because He loves us, because we've experienced that love for ourselves, that makes us want to be that "hand extended" - not because it's our duty but because we love Him in return for loving us first, and that spills out all over everyone with whom we come in contact. In short, compassion for others (the lost, other believers, whatever) is a natural overflow of His love for us!! 

Which brings me back to my friend. My prayer for her is that she is able to sense and experience that divine, unconditional love for her, and that (even in the midst of her pain) she can spill out some of that love into the lives of the people with whom she comes in contact....that she continually knows that "peace that [sur]passes all understanding" surging through her. 

And not only will I will pray for her and for her family members ... I will make myself and my resources available as God leads me.

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