Originally published Wednesday, 06 July 2016.
Lately, I’ve been asking God for deeper insight, greater strength, and the ability to show compassion on a level I haven’t yet experienced. I want my faith to be fresh, not dusty or full of what’s expected and natural. I want the unexpected supernatural.
Hope and life seem to develop from ashes. Our greatest strength is stirred inside deep waters of weakness. This is how we know grace truly lives and covers all.
Not long ago, I learned that compassion is a strong emotion requiring action. That means you have no choice but to do something. When compassion takes over, there’s no more sitting idle. You do what you have to do regardless of whether you’re sure of the outcome or not. In scripture, when Jesus feels compassion He’s moved to action. He heals, He prays, He does whatever is required of Him.
Based on the scriptural view of compassion, I can honestly say it’s a foreign emotion for many of us. We often experience sadness based on our own experiences, or from pain others are suffering, and we can all identify with what anger feels like. But can you pinpoint the last time you were moved to act righteously based on the feeling of compassion? I have to wonder how often we allow our deep waters of weakness to be stirred by this seemingly foreign emotion? And, how often does strength prevail because of it?
I recently felt compassion.
Based on my own experience, the action forced from compassion did not feel good. I didn’t feel rewarded after doing the right thing; I had no resolve or letting go of pain. If anything, I felt deeper pain. However, I want to please God, and I have deep faith that what we do solely for Him will add strength and peace to each new day. The words in 1 Samuel 15:22 come to mind, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” (Before the cross, sacrificing animals was the atonement for sin, however, if one obeyed in the first place, there was no need for the sacrifice because there was no sin for which to atone.)
He’s a good God full of righteousness, peace, and plans for each life. I don’t know why He allows us to pour love into certain people only to end up hurt. I don’t know why some suffer so deeply that they lash out and turn from those who have loved them. I have know idea why compassion sometimes hurts us to the core. I only know I must fight for obedience to live alongside pain. I must allow both obedience and pain to walk hand-in-hand so that when something hurts, God can work. Pain doesn’t have to fester and bring forth bitterness; it can work with obedience to bring forth beauty. It’s a choice, friend.
When it comes to compassion, He requires different actions from different people. It depends on the situation. Mine is obviously close to the heart and comes from a fractured relationship. It’s a heart matter and we all know matters of the heart hurt most. I don’t know what’s going on inside your life or what might be cutting at your heart. I’m not sure what action God will require of you once you feel the strong emotion of compassion, but let me encourage you with this: compassion is a wonderful, productive emotion. Don’t run scared of it. When you feel it, you will have no other choice but to move. It means you’ve chosen obedience. It is possible for obedience and pain to coexist in a healthy manner. And when they do, grace flows down.
I wish every situation/relationship wrapped up perfectly with a storybook ending. I wish unity was a priority for everyone. And, Dear God, I wish people made better decisions, including me. But here’s the thing: After all the tears are shed, when we allow pain and obedience to work together, we have a redeemed ending. We were made for holy redemption by which the covering of grace pours so thick the will of God takes over and breathes life. We must believe that in the hardest most hurtful moments, God is moving with compassion on us, and so we must move with compassion for others.
8 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; 9 not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing…
-1 Peter 3:8-9