Word for Wednesday… Compassion
When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, ‘Do not weep’.Luke 7:13
Several years ago, when being faced with a very difficult decision, I sought counsel from a trusted family friend. He was a successful business man, someone I considered wise, intelligent and rational; so I was completely shocked and extremely disappointed when his advice to was to simply “follow my heart.” I remember thinking, “that is the dumbest thing anyone has ever said to me.” I was in only in my early twenties at the time and I had already learned that emotions are not to be trusted. Given the fickleness of our feelings it makes far more sense to make decisions with our heads, not our hearts. I would hesitate to tell someone to “follow their heart,” but what about their stomach?
I was recently reminded that the Greek word that is usually translated “compassion” in English Bibles literally means “to be moved as to one’s bowels.” This is why you will sometimes see the phrase, “moved with compassion.” Ancient peoples believed the bowels were thought a source for feelings like love and pity. While we have a very different understanding of the human anatomy than they do, we can understand how they would have reached this conclusion. We have all had the experience of seeing somebody in great need and feeling so much pity for them that we actually experienced a level of physical discomfort in our tummies. The phrase, “it made me sick in my stomach,” can be meant both metaphorically and literally. When we feel this way about someone in need, and we are in a position to help them, maybe we should do something about it?
The verse quoted above describes one of many times Jesus had compassion for someone and responded accordingly. In this instance it was a woman who had just lost her only son. Since she was a widow, not only was she dealing with the profound sense of loss that any parent would experience with the death of a child, she had also lost her provider. Jesus was so moved by her situation he restored the life of her son. Such an act is clearly beyond the scope of our abilities, but there are plenty of things we can do to help those in need. And there is no lack of people in need in our communities, in our country, and in our world. Don’t dismiss that painful feeling you experience in the pit of your stomach the next time you see somebody hurting. By God’s grace, be like Jesus, and do something about it.