"You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come." Psalm 102:13
"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:22
Last night I had some people on my mind as I went to bed. I couldn't sleep for a long time, and my thoughts kept wandering back to them. My thoughts were in the area of simply wishing how they were doing, thinking positively for them, and hoping that they make it through their current trials unscathed and stronger because of it.
And then my thoughts took a slightly skewed turn, and I just found myself thinking a judgmental thought, that came from out of nowhere. Immediately, I got angry with myself, because it is not my place to judge. I've been working on that and learning that. Judgement is for God alone to dole out, and it is not my place to look at an external situation and judge.
And that led me to praying for these precious people. I just prayed for grace and mercy from God, but more so, I prayed that they would not be judged by their fellow Christians, and I prayed that they would not feel like they are being judged, because I know how that goes too. Your mind plays games with you and you feel like everyone is looking at you, and behind their eyes you see the thoughts of judgement, of them feeling sorry for you and thinking that they could do better with the situation.
As I prayed for these friends, I also laid awake for some time, just thinking about compassion and empathy, and thinking that people just need more of it. And I determined, before I fell asleep that I was going to look up compassion in my Bible this morning. Did you know there are quite a few verses about compassion? And look at these, right off the top, right towards the beginning of the Old Testament, we learn that compassion is one of the characteristics of God.
"And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness," Exodus 34:6
God IS compassionate to all His children. Just look at that verse again. The Lord is compassionate. And gracious. And slow to anger. And abounding in both love AND faithfulness. We see all that in one little verse- words from God Himself as He passed by Moses.
Did you know that when we see a characteristic of God in our Bible, that is something worth emulating? The characteristics and traits of God are in our Word so that we can see them, and learn from them, and try to apply them more ourselves to our everyday life. While we're certainly not trying to BE God, we are trying to be more like Him. Here is what Jesus said about that:
"Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." John 5:19
Now think about a young boy with a father who is a fisherman. Think of that boy walking at his father's side throughout his young life, spending his days watching this man be the best fisherman ever. One by one, the boy spends time learning the tasks as he is ready for them. One day he learns to cast a net. Another day he learns to haul it in. Yet another day, he learns how to repair a net. Later on, he learns how to sort his catch- how to know what he should keep and what he should throw back. And one day, this young boy finds himself a young man with a huge talent for being a fisherman- all because he saw and did what he saw his father doing.
We should do the exact same thing. When we see something of God in our scriptures, we should take note, and do what we can to apply that to our very lives. And today, the very thing I am talking about applying is compassion.
Because the thing is, no matter what you have personally gone through in your life, you never can really know what that other person is going through. We can never really know how this particular trial is affecting someone, and honestly, it's not our place to try and understand that anyway. When someone is suffering, it is not our job to probe and prod and try to understand what is going on. Instead, our job is to love unconditionally, to have compassion in spades and to be faithful in lifting that person up in prayer, to support them as they go through their trial. So often we take other people's trials and we try to solve them for them, offering solutions that weren't really asked for in the first place.
"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him." 1 John 3:1
God, our Father has lavished His love on us, we need to do the same to our brothers and sisters when they are struggling. We need to love them, and cherish them, and offer ourselves to them, we do not need to judge them, or offer solutions. We just need to have compassion, as God IS compassion.