Keep Calm and Read a Psalm 112:4-7:
“Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness;
He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
A good man deals graciously and lends;
He will guide his affairs with discretion.
Surely he will never be shaken;
The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.
He will not be afraid of evil tidings;
His heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.”
I love my two nieces to pieces—most of the time. One is a toddler, and the other is only a few months old. The most adorable little girls on the planet. Truly. But they’re a handful and a half. While I was visiting them, my sister asked me to babysit while she had a much-needed mom vacation…to the grocery store (I don’t know how you moms do it). It wouldn’t have been a problem—the toddler is easily entertained and the baby was supposed to be asleep.
But then something happened that ruins every good morning—the baby started crying. I rushed back and did as I was told—stuck the pacifier back in her mouth. But the pacifier did not…well, pacify. So, with my amazing uncle-ness, I pulled up My Little Pony on YouTube for the toddler and rushed back to deal with the baby. All the while frantically calling my sister (how do you get this thing to shut up?!). I tried picking her up, moving her, talking to her, giving her money—nothing would work to stop the crying. I had to sit there, enduring her wails for several minutes before my sister got back and soothed the little one immediately. Figures.
Needless to say, my compassion level was not very high at that moment. And it didn’t get any higher the next day when she spit up on me no less than three (thousand) times in five minutes. And yet the Lord says in Psalm 112 that the upright is “gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.” Nope—that’s not me! “A good man deals graciously and lends…He will not be afraid of evil tidings. His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” Yep, the Psalmist wasn’t writing my biography. Now flash forward to today. By the time this blog post is published, I will be in Africa, ministering to young orphans with tragic pasts and discipline skills to match. If I can’t be compassionate to my own crying niece, how can I hope to show compassion to such needy children? Rude.
Let me share some insight with you: compassion is hard. When the coffee line is slow, when the old person won’t drive the speed limit, when the spouse is filing for divorce, when there’s no money left, when the boss is not understanding…ya, showing compassion will be very hard.
But you don’t have it the worst. Compassion is hardest when the people You created reject Your way, when the ones You thought were Your friends betray You or pretend they don’t know You, when Your Creation spits in Your blood-covered face, when the ones You’re dying for fill the air with the sound of a nail piercing Your flesh, when the men and women You so desperately love mock Your naked and bloody form as it hangs on a Cross…ya, that’s hard compassion. If a God Whom you rejected can still show compassion to you—yes, even give His Only Son to die for you—I think you can bear with a little spit-up. When looking at a bloody Christ, you can certainly have compassion on your waitress or fellow driver or landlord or boss—or even unruly orphans in Africa.
I like to think of compassion as a messy thing. Sure, you’ll have to get dirty. Some tears may wet your cheeks, some spit-up may stain your shirt, some blood may run down your leg…but it’s just how compassion works! And we’re commanded to show it to all. Yes, even Bloody Compassion.
-Matthew W., SC