Be the Person: That Finds Compassion
Compassion is a word that is flippantly thrown around almost as much as the word love. People profess their love for food, clothes, sports, hobbies, and people without truly processing or completely understanding the depth and meaning of the word love. Not knowing the depth of the word has been a detriment to its meaning and value and caused love to be played out as just a feeling rather than an action.
In the same manner, the word compassion falls so easily from our lips, and we fail to realize that it’s so much more than a feeling. It’s whole-hearted action. We use the word compassion so easily that we don’t acknowledge that it’s not so easily practiced as it is spoken.
Is it in short supply when we don’t the return we’re looking for when working with a child from a hard place? Do we lose compassion for a child or a situation when the change we worked so hard for doesn’t happen? Do we change from compassionate to angry when WE put so much hard work into a child’s success and don’t get the anticipated return?
It’s human nature to lose compassion during a time of hardship. In the Bible, only a few days before Christ crucifixion, people praised Him in the streets, and then only a few days later those same people were yelling, “Crucify Him.” Jesus was not the king they wanted or expected—the king that would conquer the Romans and rescue them from their power. Because they were disappointed, they quickly turned on Him and lost their love and compassion.
How do you look at children from hard places? Usually, in the initial stages, our hearts are broken for them, and we say empathetically, “They have been through so much!”. We are moved by compassion to help them. And how often, once we are actively working with them, do we find ourselves frustrated with their hourly temper tantrums or full of anger and because they threw all the couch pillows and broke your favorite vase.
How often do we lovingly take a child into our homes hoping, “faithing” (I know that’s not a word), willing a child to fully succeed, but become exasperated and want to quit after days, months, or even years of loving and investing in a child that only has limited success. Sometimes we lose our compassion and resort to old authoritarian ways of punishment, trying to get the results we want, and our desire and purpose to disciple a child to Christlikeness is lost because we lost our compassion.
We can read about compassion in the Bible. We can feel compassion and even be moved to some level of action, but we need to go beyond the easy actions and actively practice compassion for kids from hard places. you must LOOK for compassion.
Compassion doesn’t just happen. We must look for it daily—in moments, minutes, days, months, and years to come.
How do we find compassion?
The definition of compassion is a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is hurting, in pain, or has misfortune and is accompanied by a strong desire to help the suffering.
Compassion literally means “to suffer together”
Jesus was the best example of compassion, and the scripture often illustrates His deep compassion for people. He had so much compassion that He was willing to lay down his life for us. How did He find compassion?
1. He listened to His Heavenly Father.
Even as a young boy, Jesus was listening to the will of the God. Jesus always was ready to listen to His Father’s directions. (See Luke 2:49)
2. He was always in the community.
Every scripture that references Jesus being moved with compassion shows He was in the community, serving the people. In many instances, He was going somewhere or doing something, but as He encountered someone in distress or with a problem, He was moved with compassion. He wasn’t behind closed doors or strictly interacting with His culture. He was willing to serve all that where in need and to find the people He needed to be involved with. He was always ready to go out and minister. He wasn’t sitting in someone’s house, hoping for an opportunity for compassion would come to him. (See Mark 6:30-44, Matthew 9:35-38, and Matthew 14:13-21)
3. He saw the need.
Not only was Jesus out in the community, looking for opportunities to show compassion and ready to act. He saw the needs of the people. He saw it with His eyes, His heart was filled with compassion, and He was moved from compassion to action.
You’ve been moved with compassion. Now what?
Through Jesus’ example and teachings, we can find what to do when we are moved with compassion. Here are some actions compassion causes us to take:
God demonstrates compassion by comforting those in need. He comforts us in our troubles so that we can comfort others in trouble with the comfort we receive from God. (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Jesus had compassion for people that had followed him to listen to His teachings. They were hungry and He fed them. He saw after their physical as well as their spiritual needs. (See Mathew 15:29-39)
Because of His compassion, Jesus healed those that were sick. Not only do we need to show active compassion for those who have a physical illness, but also for those who need emotional healing or have mental illnesses. We need to take the necessary steps to bring healing to their lives. (See Mathew 14:13-21)
Jesus was moved with compassion and taught those who were following Him. He recognized their eagerness to hear His message and even though He was tired, He continued to teach them. (See Mark 6:30-44)
Jesus demonstrated that compassion forgives as He told the parable of the prodigal son who left his home, dishonored his father, did many terrible things, and then fell into hard times. When the son returned home, his father forgave him, just as Jesus forgives even the ghastliest of sins we commit. (See Luke 15:11-32)
Compassion sends out
Because of His compassion, Jesus compelled His disciples to minister to the people and to pray for more people to serve those in need. (See Matthew 9:35-38) He showed us that true compassion sends us out to the community to meet people’s needs.
The compassion that motivates us to act is not always easily felt or found, and the examples in the Bible are easier to read and to understand than to practice. We know we need to have compassion, but when the feeling of compassion is put to the test, we sometimes lose it when we depend on our own strength instead of God’s strength.
When you’re actively practicing compassion, especially with kids from hard places, don’t be discouraged when your natural compassion fails and you feel like giving up. Quickly put away any guilt over your own inadequacies and failings. Look to Jesus, and ask Him for help finding compassion. Be encouraged by what God is doing in the lives of those children, and if your life as well. And keep on practicing compassion.