I had never given the idea of compassion much thought until a few months ago when in the midst of a friend’s crisis, I felt gut wrenching pain and realized, for the first time, this was what true compassion felt like.
Part of our created humanness is that we form natural emotional and psychological attachments to people and things. But when lose them—such as in the death of a loved one—we experience the process of grief. The greater the loss the deeper the grief.
Our problem comes when we don't process our grief allowing proper healing from the loss to occur. We end up stuck. Some inadequate responses include not grieving at all, delayed grief, incomplete grief, and responding with bitterness.
God accepts the fact that we grieve and that it is part of the human condition. Paul commanded, “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). He also wrote we grieve but not in the same manner as those who do not have hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). When we have Jesus Christ as our Saviour, we still grieve, but the nature of that grief is changed so that we grieve with the sure hope of heaven and the restoration of all things. God knows grief is normal and His answer to us is, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Isaiah 53:3-4 describes Jesus as “A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” In John 11:33-35 Jesus wept greatly at the death of his friend Lazarus. When John the Baptist was killed Jesus withdrew to a solitary place (Matthew 14:13). Seeing Jesus grieve shows us grief is not sin and it is OK to feel pain at loss.
For the rest of the missions trip, I thought about Jesus' ministry and the compassion He must have felt for the many people He encountered. People He taught, healed, and those who desperately cried out to Him.
Being compassionate or not is all about what you look at and see. The fact that we don't like seeing pain makes compassion difficult, but compassion only occurs in the context of another's pain.
Part of our created humanness is that we form natural emotional and psychological attachments to people and things. But when lose them—such as in the death of a loved one—we experience the process of grief.