Approximately three years ago I was asked to write down what I wanted from God. I don’t remember why. I remember who was there, where I prayed and what I asked for. I also remember having to pray to know what I should ask for. Because, when the paper was placed in front of me, I went blank. Then it came to me. I knew what I should pray for. Looking back, I didn’t know that one prayer could cause so much pain.
My prayer was for compassion.
How can praying for compassion be painful? Because in order to have compassion, God allows His children to face difficult times so that you will learn how to be compassionate to others. We are not compassionate by nature like God is. We are human. We are selfish by nature. We are self- centered and self-seeking. As Lysa Terkhuerst puts it, “It’s the breaking of you that becomes the making of you”.
If I had never lost anyone, I wouldn’t know how someone else might feel. If I had never experienced rejection, I wouldn’t know how to comfort someone who had also been rejected.
I believe deep compassion comes from deep pain.
I was thumbing through my Bible during a church service last week when verses felt as though they were flying off the page at me.
- “But go and learn what this means: ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT SACRIFICE,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:13
- Seeing the people, He felt [or was moved with] compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
- At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath.” But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? “Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. “But if you had known what this means, ‘I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. Matthew 12:1-7
- And Jesus called His disciples to Him, and said, “I feel compassion for the people, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not want to send them away hungry, for they might faint on the way.” Matthew 15:32
This year has been one that I will never forget. It’s been one of severe pain and loss. It has also been a year of growth. I remember one particular day as I was reading my Bible, my heart was broken and I felt surrounded by confusion, God led me to this verse:
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isaiah 30:18
As time progressed, God knew I would need to know that He was a God of compassion and not condemnation.
“The whole outlook of humankind might be changed if we could all believe that we dwell under a friendly sky and that the God of heaven, although exalted in power and majesty, is eager to be friends with us.” –A.W Tozer
So whatever you’re facing know this: God is a God of compassion!
If you have been through the fire and are coming out the other side, ask God to help you to be courageous in your compassion. It is not always easy because we need to be vulnerable. We have to allow ourselves to be open with each other- oftentimes- that means being susceptible to more hurt. However, being compassionate is what God desires and He is worthy of our heart and our very lives!
My challenge to myself and to you is to be:
The quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.