“..for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.”
― Milan Kundera
Practising the presence of God is a necessity, a vital component of feeling connected to Him and the essence of real relationship. To be aware that He is present in and through all things is to be comforted- mindful of His beautiful ways, His pure thoughts and His good will for our lives.
‘For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things …’- Romans 11 v 36
So, to practise His presence is a kind of first step, a foundation to a secure walk with Him. But, to practise His compassion is another realm entirely. Practising the presence of God meets our basic inner need for connection, whereas practising compassion meets God’s need of us- our hands, feet and voice going out to and reaching others. Of course, God has no needs in one sense, but in the other sense He has chosen to use us as His vessels of compassion on the earth.
I heard a preacher share about a moment he had in a café, he described the pain he saw etched all over the face of the waitress serving him. His companions at the table appeared not to notice and bantered with the waitress politely while settling the bill, but the preacher couldn’t escape the look of pain on the girls face. He said he felt compelled to do something, he was moved with compassion and had to acknowledge the pain he saw. He did not know what to say or how to say it, so he simply stated to the lady what he saw then asked her if she would like any prayer about anything.
The waitress broke down in tears. She shared her pain, the preacher and his companions stopped first to listen and then to pray.
Compassion had made a way for God to break through and touch someone’s life.
I love that, I really love that. I believe God loves it too. The moral of the story is that we must respond to the unspoken pain we see in the faces of those we come across from day to day- on the bus, in the supermarket, in the queue at the post office. Opportunities to practise compassion are all around us. God shows us these things for a reason; discernment is the friend of compassion. We may be the only person that notices the sadness or pain behind the weak smile or glazed eyes of a person. We may have to step out of our comfort zone, not knowing what to say or how to say it. But like the compassionate preacher, we can acknowledge the pain we see in another and offer to pray, or offer a free coffee and a listening ear.
‘When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.’ – Matthew 9 v 36
What did Jesus see when He looked at the crowds? What was written on their faces? Whatever it was, Jesus was moved with compassion. He saw they were harassed and helpless and He did something about it. He was ultimately moved to commit the greatest act of love the world has ever seen.
May we practise His compassion, and do likewise.