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Suffering With …

The day finally came. My last day to be an interim school aide for a young man I had known for only 3 months. In that short time, we had grown to care for one another.little cross

Leaving was difficult but necessary for several reasons. However, I couldn’t go without giving him a remembrance that someone would always care. So our last day ended with a quick hug as I handed him the small pocket cross I purchased.

Small Gesture, Big Meaning

I hoped the memento would remind him of me. But more importantly, I prayed it would remind him that he is never alone: Someone would always understand his chaotic life. Someone would never abandon him because he made poor choices or lived on the wrong side of town. That no matter where he went, what he did, or who his aide was, that Someone, the Lord of the Universe, would love him through it all.

It was a small gesture with big meaning. And Joey seemed to accept it in that vein. His face lit up and he kept fingering the token, saying he’d always keep it.

I left Joey that day with a wide range of emotions. I felt pleasure that he knew I cared. Yet, I desperately wanted to make his life better. I didn’t want to leave him in the crazy, mixed-up world he lived in. I left with a stomachache–a by-product of compassion.

In his thought-provoking, convicting book, Wrecked, Jeff Goins points out that compassion means “to suffer with.” When you have compassion for someone, you hurt with them.

But it doesn’t end there. Compassion spurs a person to action. It moved me to purchase a little token to encourage Joey. Sometimes it means radically changing ones life to make a difference.

Compassion is not just a feeling; it is acting on that feeling.

Sad news propels most of us to feel bad for the victims. Stories of starving children. News of disasters. Exposes on slave trafficking. They all bring tears to our eyes. But how many of us do something about it? Very few. That feeling is not true compassion.

True Compassion

True compassion propels us to action. It moves our heart in such a way that we can’t help but reach out.

There are many reasons not to act on feelings: feeling inadequate or overwhelmed; thinking our little action won’t be enough to make a difference; believing it is not our problem; desire not to share our time or money. These are just a few. And they are all lies perpetrated by the master of lies.

Compassion can be difficult because it goes against our natural bent for self. We are good at serving “me.” It is much harder to selflessly serve others.

Let me assure you. We are not called to solve all the world’s problems. We cannot possibly help everyone or do everything. However, we can do one thing. We can help one person. We can join one cause.

In fact we were created to do just that. Take that first step of compassion today. Maybe it’s as simple as offering encouragement to someone in the form of a pocket token.

“For we are His creation–created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

Reflections: I asked this question yesterday, but it’s worth asking again: Who will you suffer with today? Who do you have compassion for? How can that compassion be expressed?

Know that I am blessed by your visits and value your comments. I love to pray for you and hear your stories! If you find my writings encouraging, please share them with others. It’s super easy, just click one of the buttons below. And if you haven’t yet, please consider subscribing to my site by email or RSS feed. You’ll get each post delivered right to you.

By His grace ≈

Julie

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Find hope in your real-life struggles. We'll chase it together! I am a wife; mom of 4 (including a young adult daughter with special needs); miscarriage mom of 5; author & follower of Jesus Christ. I write, edit, speak and enjoy everything outdoors.

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