Compassion: Going Out of Your Way to Help
February is over now, but we have one last form of love to discuss—compassion. When I think of compassion, many different versions come to mind. The formal definition is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
But what does it look like to have a tender heart of compassion? I think that it must be more than a feeling and a desire. I think that those are simply catalysts that inspire true compassion—going out of your way to help someone in need. It calls for action and service.
On May 31st, 1889, disaster struck in the small, working-class town of Johnstown, Pennsylvania. A few miles upstream the river, a dam had broken after a heavy rainfall and flooded Johnstown with twenty million tons of water. 2,209 people lost their lives and millions of dollars of damage was inflicted. It was catastrophic. However, hope dawned in the form of compassion. People from all the country as well as abroad sent support and brought relief in person with the American Red Cross. It was the largest response to a man-made disaster in the nation’s history. Those volunteers didn’t have to help the people of Johnstown, but they did.
From the medical personnel who went to Africa to battle Ebola to Pastor Lee’s baby drop box in South Korea, humanitarian efforts all over the world demonstrate that this is true. One of Jesus’ most famous parables also shows us that compassion requires action.
“But he . . . said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’ Jesus replied, ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. . . . But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:29-30, 33-34)
However, the ultimate example of a heart of compassion is exemplified in the life and death of Christ Himself. He certainly did not have to go out of His way and come to earth to alleviate our spiritual suffering and death. But He did come. It certainly wasn’t glamorous, but He met our deepest, most fundamental need. He washed our feet and showed us the way to life.
And now, because we live in Him, He compels us to follow in His footsteps and give ourselves to others with hearts of compassion (Colossians 3:12).
I have a tender heart of compassion for those around me. (Driving Reflections – Love & Relationships)
Citation: Saunders, Tanner. “The 9 Most Devastating Man-Made Disasters.” American Profile. N.p., Apr. 2014. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.