Sunday, May 18, 2008

Compassion, Pain and Intimacy

Let's face it. . we don't like to hurt. It's true, we can all admit it. We don't like our hearts to ache, to feel sadness, to mourn, to cry our eyes out. Why? I believe because it leaves us needy and vulnerable. . and wanting something more. We don't like that. .

However, we sing, "I want to know you, I want to see your face, I want to know you more. I want to touch you, I want to hear your voice, I want to know you more."

Nope. We don't. Well, we don't all the way and when we do, it is an act of obedience and not necessarily the easiest song to sing anymore. You see Jesus is a contradiction that we don't understand. He is complete joy (this, we like) and also the epitomy of suffering and loss. We want to know, love, touch and see the beautiful parts of Jesus that fill us with love and joy.

Jesus said, "Whatever you do to the least of these, you have done to me." Want to see Jesus? Look into the eyes of the homeless man you pass. Want to touch him? Hold an HIV+ orphan. Want to hear him? be a listening ear for a single mom. Want to know Him more? Obey him.

Compassion is where it's found. Jesus talked about and demonstarted compassion during His ministry here. In fact, His CHARACTER is compassionate. First, let's define that word. Compassion is from the Latin words "pati" and "cum" translated, "TO SUFFER WITH". Henri Nouwen says, "Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak , vulnerable with the vulnerable and powerless with the powerless. . ." Tom Davis sums it up in 4 words, "Compassion is about INVOLVEMENT". We saw Jesus get involved in people's lives. To walk among the hurting, to go to their homes to visit their cities, to wait for them at the well in the heat of the day. AND, he told us to do it too. God's word is replete with commands to weep with those who weep, to comfort, to mourn together. INVOLVEMENT in other's lives. .yes, even their pain. Jesus did this, the early church did this. .do we? Are we willing to enter into other's lives and feel their pain? And, at what point do we say, "enough is enough". Are we willing to enter in our neighbor's life? Are we willing to cry for the families in Burma and China who lost their lives and loved ones? Do we weep over the starving children or those sold into prostitution or slavery today? Or. . do we shy away from pain. I am challenged to believe that to shy away from pain, is to shy away from Jesus.

Not only did he command compassion and demonstrate compassion during His earthly ministry, but He offers it to me EVERY DAY. Read and let the words of Lamentations 3 speak to you,

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. "

And this is just ONE of 100 verses that mention compassion. I encourage you to spend an hour. Go to and search the word compassion. Now change it to "suffer with" every time you read. Do you stand amazed? The GOD OF THE UNIVERSE suffers with me every day. He chooses to enter my pain and comfort me. He chooses to see my tears. God's word says they are precious to Him. If I feel SO special that the God of the universe would feel my pain, why am I not willing to do the same for others. To cry for the AIDS orphan in Zimbabwe for whom no one has cried. To cry with the single mom who just doesn't know how to do it anymore. To feel their pain. And, in the process, to know HIM more.

For he says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. "

There is little that is more intimate than comforting someone who is mourning. Am I willing to mourn so that I may be comforted by the lover of my soul? Are you?

*PS: if you want to be challenged more, go buy Fields of the Fatherless by Tom Davis!


Charity said...

So true.....

Wish more people would get it.


Sean and Lisa said...

Excellent thought provoking, soul searching post!

amy smith said...

painful beautiful surrender

Missy said...

Love the new focus of your blog and the constant challenges you put forth to all of us, your readers, to live a life of faith that reaches out in compassion and love to others.
Love, Missy

julie said...

excellent post, brandi. some good food for thought today.

jeff & katie said...

Just got Fields of the Fatherless today!! Still waiting on Red Letters but you can bet I will start reading tonight!
Love the new blog...the inspiration and challenge to us all..
love ya

amber said...

"Compassion" is one of those words that gets me every time I hear it. I know that I know it's what God has called us to... more than anything...

I love the new title of your blog -- that verse is one of Peter and my "life" verses. It's short, but potent!!! ;)

Laura said...

I love this post...
but i need to see pics of my sweeties.

Any plans for Bray's birthday? Let me know!

Erhardts said...

Sooo....just got Red Letters in the mail yesterday and have been reading Fields of the Fatherless. How can one NOT feel compelled to act.

Hey-please pray for me. I'm really feeling like I'm at a cross roads in life right now with my job. I have been offered a job at a local hospital as a Nurse Assistant on the Labor and Delivery floor. My heart's desire for a long time has been to go to nursing school and they will be able to pay for a portion of my nursing school starting next year. My hubby adn I want to serve as missionaries in Kenya one day and are having difficulties being patient....PLUS we are trying to pay off school loans ASAP! Pray for patience, discernment on whether or not to take this new job, and for direction for where God wants to take our family.