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EVERYONE NEEDS COMPASSION

by David Wells


If we had the choice, most of us would not choose to experience ‘Gethsemane moments.’ None of us wants to walk through the breakup of close relationship, the loss of a child or grandchild, or the moral and/or spiritual failure of a family member or friend.
Compassionate living is a universal call for followers of Jesus, especially those who shepherd others. We do recognize the fact that compassion is not necessarily exhibited in the same manner by each of us. Some of us are more emotive; others, less. Some are oriented to respond more privately to needs; others exhibit public responses. Images or stories motivate many to compassionate action; others need “the facts.” However, anyone who is incapable of being motivated by or of expressing compassion is not qualified to provide leadership within the church of Jesus.

We have the privilege of learning from Jesus about living lives of compassion. One of the principal character qualities of Jesus was His ability to be “moved with compassion.” Jesus saw things that stirred Him to action. He was “touched” by the same things that cause us to share in sorrow and pain. He was observed weeping. In reality, Jesus experienced the very same challenges we do that could have created “compassion fatigue” over time. He was faced by overwhelming need, unrealistic expectations, a heavy schedule, continual opposition, spiritual battle and lack of solitude and rest. He knew the pressure of a “Messiah complex”; after all, He was the One!

Now, we’re not Jesus so there is no excuse for having a Messiah complex, but we do need to learn from Him how to lead with compassion while not inwardly imploding. The most obvious lesson I see from the Gospels is that we have to receive in order to give. Jesus was engaged with the heart of the Father. Their relationship, both private and public, continually replenished Jesus with the inner reserve He needed to engage His mission with those He was called to. Even His most traumatic moment, the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, became a place of replenishment so that He could walk through the most compassionate, sacrificial 24 hours ever lived on this planet. Nearing the point of death on the cross, He was still able to show compassion and offer forgiveness to the thief beside Him.

If we had the choice, most of us would not choose to experience “Gethsemane moments.” None of us wants to walk through the breakup of close relationship, the loss of a child or grandchild, or the moral and/or spiritual failure of a family member or friend. We would prefer never to be personally impacted by a deadly natural disaster, an accidental death, or to be victims of crime.

However, most of us would have to acknowledge that it is by living through some of these overwhelming circumstances that we discover depths of God’s strength, peace and compassion that we have never known before. At such times, deep work happens in the core of who we are. His strength becomes our strength; His peace, our peace; and His compassion, our compassion.
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8).
By consistently experiencing His compassion in our lives, we have a source of compassion to offer to others.

At times those who have not experienced these depths for themselves do not have the same level of compassion to offer to those walking through experiences that are overwhelming. Some are even quick to judge the brother who has fallen, the bereaved who should be “over” their loss or the spouse whose partner has walked away. My suggestion to those who do not understand another’s pain is: simply pray; don’t talk!

Thankfully, within the family of God there are far more people who have been to their own Gethsemanes. By encountering their heavenly Father there, they have become a rich source of compassion and healing within a broken, pain filled creation. Wise are the church leaders who know how to release these teams of broken healers into their communities so that God’s compassion is experienced with a human touch. Churches that intentionally do so inevitably find themselves known as a vibrant place of growth and healing, a place to belong.

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble” (1Peter 3:8).
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DAVID WELLS—is the General Superintendent of the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada
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