Last night my daughter Elanor was struck with a stomach bug. It has been a while since someone in our home had thrown up, quite the feat for a family of 8! She did pretty well, for a 5 year old, at trying not to make a big mess of the whole thing. But, let’s face it, throwing up is in general a yucky thing all around. And last night my heart was in the wrong place… I was more worried about the mess and inconvenience than I was worried about the daughter who was sick. My husband reminded me to have compassion.
Oh, yeah, compassion…
Compassion is defined as: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.
Compassion had been on my mind since my oldest son (not quite 13) participated in his first 30 Hour Famine about 2 weeks ago. (If you aren’t familiar, you can read more at: www.30hourfamine.org) I was so proud when he enthusiastically told me he wanted to do it; my heart swelled when he came home from school talking about asking people for sponsorships and how he wanted to raise enough money to feed a child for a year.
And when his 30 Hour Famine was done and we were headed home, well, I was SO curious to know his experience. As he shared about the games they played and the funny things that happened I began to wonder about the deeper connections. He said it wasn’t that hard to go without food, not that he wanted to do it more often or anything. And then he paused. So, with the door opened, I asked, “What did you think about all your learned during the videos and discussions of the kids who are hungry and dying around the world?”
He was quiet for a little while.
And then he replied, “It’s hard to explain…
but it hurt me to see kids dying slowly with little hope that they will survive.
It encouraged me to see all the money that went to the cause, that we could do something about it.
We raised enough money for around 60 kids to have food for a year! I look forward to doing the famine next year!”
And there it was: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering… COMPASSION.
I began to tear up as he said that. What more could a mom have hoped her son would get out of that experience?
Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. Scripture records numerous times that Jesus had compassion on the people, Matthew 14, Mark 6, Mark 8, Matthew 9… And in Ephesians 4:32 we are encouraged to be kind and compassionate to one another.
Compassion is so often lacking. Sometimes we feel a deep sympathy and sorrow but we lack a desire to do anything about it. Sometimes we don’t feel sympathy or sorrow at all…
Other times, compassion abounds! News stories of caring acts in the face of tragedy and groups moved to action in response to disaster.
My oldest found compassion at the 30 Hour Famine.
I learned last night that I am often blind to the opportunities in my daily life to have compassion. We have a chance to show compassion in big events and movements, but we also can show compassion moment by moment.
How about you? Where is God calling you… where is God giving you an opportunity to show compassion?
My prayer today is that we grow to understand the compassion of God, that we see the opportunities we have to be compassionate and that we follow through with the desire to take steps to help those in need.