Saturday, May 22, 2021

Personal From... Compassion

The other day my wife was telling me of an elderly man – a homeless man – which rides her bus almost daily. She has known this man over seven years – reminding her of Will Geer of The Waltons. He’s had his wheelchair stolen from him four different times. He has nowhere to live and cannot receive help from the government until he has a permanent address. He’s been abused, beat up, has had everything stolen from him, and has no living relatives to ask for help.

Is caring and compassion for others becoming obsolete!?

Do we have compassion for the sufferings of others!?

How much compassion we have truly affects the zeal with which we yearn for our Lord Jesus Christ’s return – which will begin to end this world’s suffering.

One way to learn compassion is to begin expressing compassion. I suspect that almost daily someone comes to us who truly needs help in some small or even large way.

How can we honestly express compassion, empathy, and pity!?
  1. We need to listen.
  2. We need to show that we humbly understand.
  3. We need to show love and patience.
  4. We need to express openness, honesty, and trust.
  5. We need to offer hope.
Today, in this personal note to you, I want to talk about these five points.

Listening. The first point is listening. When my wife was telling me about this man’s plight and distress – and how it was truly distressing her – I listened. So many people talk when they should be listening. Often they don’t want to hear about other people’s problems. ‘I have enough of my own,’ they say. But if we, as true Christians, intend to be sympathetic and compassionate, we must first listen.

God’s living word is bursting at its seams with men and women who poured out their hearts unto Almighty God. He is not embarrassed or put off by what His children tell Him – He knows all things (cf. Hebrews 4:13).

Second – we need to earnestly show that we’ve heard. Again, when my wife compassionately told me of the serious plight of this man – I heard the seriousness and the distress in her voice.

Now, no one can fully understand the pain and suffering of another – so the person who is hurting feels alone. When we respond to a hurting person, we are communicating: ‘I want to understand what is happening to you and help you carry this burden.’

Friends, the person who truly cares is sincerely humble, not pretentious, is willing to learn, and is in no way inclined to look down on others with what I often call a ‘nose in the air’ type perspective. Too many so-called Christians would truly drown if they were stuck out in a heavy monsoon rain!

It is no accident that our Lord Jesus Christ was the most compassionate human being that ever walked the earth. He was the most humble man. The Book of Romans chapter 12 is brimming with practical instructions for love, compassion, caring as a true Christian. Let us take time to read it.

Compassion, patience, and sensitive giving are of prime importance! Such love – godly love – is patient and kind. It originates with God and is indeed one of the fruits of God’s Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). A compassionate person stays with the one in need, giving him or her time to grow, patiently meeting needs, and expecting that healing will truly come in due time. Like love, true patience comes from God.

In our societies of this 21st century, we are trained to stifle our feelings in public. To stifle our emotions. But truly compassionate people should seek to develop a genuine concern for others and should learn to honestly show compassion.

Over the 20-years of driving over the road, I had experienced many times when I should have spoken up with greater love, compassion, and caring. In 2006 while sitting at a restaurant counter, I noticed one seat down from me had a jacket thrown over it with a “Neo-Nazi” sitting beside it. With a thick Russian accent, he asked for another cup of coffee from the waitress. Then, not long, a young Mexican boy came and sat down at the counter where the jacket was thrown and began telling his troubles to this “Neo-Nazi” looking man. How his grandmother and father had both died on the same day. And he began to literally cry on this man’s shoulder. While I was sitting there, a strong feeling came over me along with a thought. ‘They’re going to both get up out of their chairs shortly and go off together. Say something to this young man and stop him from leaving with this man.’ Sure enough, not long, they both got up together and were leaving! But I was too scared to say anything. In 2007, a young waitress had eyes of much pain. I wanted to comfort her and speak up and tell her she needs to go before God, and that it is never as bad as it appears. But I was too afraid to do or say anything.

All of us need someone who is authentic, genuine, honest, compassionate, and brave enough to speak with true love and concern.

Do you remember when you were first learning how to ride a bicycle!? I do. My father jogged up and down the sidewalk behind me holding onto the seat with one hand. Before long and without me knowing it – he let go. But, he stayed close behind ready to grab me if I was to fall. Then, one day, I was able to ride without him.

Can you imagine how very difficult it would be to have compassion for someone if you couldn’t offer hope!? Hope involves a desire for something we want but yet do not have. When we hope, we yearn for something we cannot obtain by our own strength or resources. Hope brings comfort and mobilizes energy and enables us to keep going even during troubling times. A compassionate person must exude hope.

More than any other person, our Lord Jesus Christ showed great compassion –
“And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24) Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them” – Matthew 4:23-24, NKJV.

“When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’ – Luke 7:13, NKJV.
He set an example for us.

Let us harken to the apostle Peter –
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9) not returning evil or reviling for reviling, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” – 1 Peter 3:8-9, NKJV.
My wife’s heart is truly wrenched concerning this poor homeless man that she has known and spoken with for seven years – who weeps before her. When she asked me if she could bring him home for a meal, a hot shower, and maybe a place to lay his head for a while, I said, “Absolutely!”
“’ Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; When you see the naked, that you cover him, …’” – Isaiah 58:7, NKJV.

’ But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14) And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just’ – Luke 14:13-14, NKJV. □

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