Have you ever been shown compassion by someone else? How did it make you feel? Have you ever shown someone compassion or felt that feeling for someone or something else? What was that like? The feeling and emotion of compassion is one that is immensely strong and can cause one to do some pretty extraordinary things. The feeling that compassion creates inside of someone can drive them to quick action because of the way it grips them and doesn’t let go.
Compassion is one of the most powerful emotions one can feel. Even the meaning of this word drips with intensity. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines compassion as “a sympathetic consciousness of other’s distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” And Dictionary.com defines it as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”
The idea and practice of compassion is amazing, impressive, and a gift, but compassion can be tough too. Compassion can be seen as being undeserved in some cases. “Show compassion to that person? Even after what they’ve done?” Compassion can be costly. It can cost time and resources and be quite seemingly inconvenient. Compassion can be something that can seem to be continually doled out by one side with no reciprocation. Compassion can be hard work.
However, compassion is truly a generous gift. It’s a gift that is first and foremost given to us, and it is out of a response to what we have been given and how we have been treated by Christ that we are invited to show that same compassion to those around us. I’m thankful that God’s view of compassion is so much bigger than my own and that He doesn’t stop showing it to me because it costs too much, He has to do it all the time, and for the simple fact that I don’t deserve it. And yet, it still comes. It comes to me and it comes to you each and every day, in our good times and bad, when we have it somewhat together or are falling apart. The writer of Lamentations says it this way: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” It is out of that reality that the words of Paul in Ephesians 4 come to us as the Body of Christ as we are called to “be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God’s compassion comes to you and me and we continue to share it to those around us. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette