Pastoral Commentary: Are we running out of compassion?
The late Col. Sanders (of Kentucky Fried Chicken) was on an airplane years ago when an infant started screaming and she would not stop even though the mother and flight attendants tried every trick they could think of. Finally, the colonel asked if he could hold the baby. He then gently rocked the baby girl to sleep. Later a passenger said, “We all appreciate what you did for us.” Sanders replied, “I didn’t do it for us, I did it for the baby.”
Two liberal sociologists were walking down the street. They saw a man lying unconscious and covered with cuts and bruises from a terrible mugging. One of the sociologists turned to his colleague and said, “Whoever did this terrible deed really needs our help.” Both stories are examples of compassion, the first one the way Jesus sees it, the second one is how the world sees it.
Compassion is not a word that you hear used very often. You sure won’t hear it on the news or read about it on the front page of the paper, but it needs to be. Our world is quickly running out of compassion, and the main reason being is that everyone is focusing on me, me and me. When it comes to compassion or showing compassion there is no me. It’s all about the other person. Putting the other person first.
Can you name for me a famous person who comes to mind when you think of compassion? Mother Teresa? The Good Samaritan? It’s hard to do, isn’t it? Let’s see what the bible has to say about compassion. Let’s look at 2 Cor. 1:3-4 "3: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. “ So, if God is the father of compassion, what qualities of God can be displayed in compassion? Love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, giving, understanding, sacrifice.
With this being said is it any wonder that compassion is a lost art in most of our world. But in the Christian life, it should never be lost.
What can we do individually to see that compassion does not disappear or run out? We all talk about what needs to happen but to make it happen requires action on our part. So, what can we do to make sure we’re not like the two sociologists?
Here are four steps that I hope will help us keep compassion alive and well.
1. We need to be aware and recognize that there is suffering. Look for the opportunities that God puts before us as far as people hurting and suffering. It’s a little hard to show compassion if we’re not looking for ways to share it.
2. Do not be afraid to feel emotions that come by being moved by that suffering. It’s a little hard to show compassion if you don’t feel anything. Emotions are not bad; if used in the right way they become very powerful. So don’t be afraid to care even if it hurts.
3. Pray for relief from those suffering. Make it personal for you as well. Get involved spiritually. Get God in the picture.
4. Finally be prepared to take action to relieve that suffering. Be open to God’s prompting. Let God open the doors and show you the way. God will not set you up to fail, He gives us the opportunity to achieve.
Christopher Sercye was playing basketball with his friends on May 16, 1998 when he was shot in the chest, and a bullet perforated his aorta. His friends helped him get to within forty feet of the entrance to Ravenswood Hospital and then went inside and asked for help. The hospital staff refused to help Christopher, saying that it was against the hospital’s policies to administer aid to those outside the hospital. Eventually, a policeman was able to get a wheel chair and wheeled Christopher into the hospital where he was helped by the hospital staff. It was too late, and Christopher died about an hour later.
Let’s not stay inside our comfort zone or let the perspective of the world stop us when it comes to showing compassion. Let us give as God has given to us. Compassion. Have a great week.