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  • Writer's pictureMatt Garris

Compassion

Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle and the rise of social media, we now receive bad news on a regular basis. I’m not talking about the climate, economy, or politics, but about the truly tragic situations we hear about each and every day with real human victims. Stories of abuse, exploitation, kidnapping, murder, neglect, slavery, and a host of other unimaginably painful situations have become as routine as hearing tomorrow’s weather forecast.


Sadly, this steady diet of misery and sorrow can desensitize us. There are so many tragedies that we become numb to them, almost unable to care. This is natural. God did not design us to deal with all the world’s problems every moment of every day. We should not carry everyone’s burdens, but we must not become so emotionally numb that we cannot respond when tragedy impacts those close to us.


When someone receives bad news, we have three possible responses. The first is sympathy, which is feeling sorry FOR someone. The next is empathy, which is feeling sorry WITH someone. But the third, compassion, is the example Jesus set for us to follow.


Compassion literally means to “suffer with,” but differs from the other responses because it acts. Compassion sees someone suffering, pities them (sympathy), comes alongside them (empathy), and acts to alleviate their pain.


Jesus demonstrated compassion on many occasions. One of my favorites is when He resurrected a dead man in Luke 7:11-17. This miracle didn’t stem from a request to act. Jesus was just passing by and met a funeral procession. It wasn’t the man’s death that moved Jesus, but his mother’s anguish at his passing. Verse 13 says “when He saw her, He had compassion on her.” In other words, Jesus suffered with this woman. He felt sorry for the man’s mother, empathized with her sorrow, and was moved to act on her behalf.


Again, we see Jesus’ compassion when Lazarus died. John 11:33 says that when Jesus saw Mary and her friends weeping, “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” In fact, Jesus went with them to Lazarus’ tomb and when He saw Lazarus’ corpse, He also wept. Jesus went on to raise Lazarus from the dead, demonstrating His great compassion for Mary, Martha, and their friends.


Matthew 9:36 describes Jesus as being moved with compassion. This describes inner churning or turmoil, physical pain associated with deep sorrow. But it also tells us that compassion moved Jesus to act. This is the heart of the Gospel. Jesus saw a suffering world, and felt so much compassion for us that He came to earth to save us. He gave His life to remedy our situation.


Likewise, there are times when you and I should be so burdened with another’s suffering that we feel compelled to act to relieve it. I want to encourage you to do it. This is the example He set for us. So be like Jesus and act to remedy someone’s suffering today.



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