Devotions

Suffering Together

By Mary Loudermilk
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“And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34, New King James Version).

Over and over in the Gospels, we are told about the compassion of Jesus, whether ministering one on one or to the multitudes. Putting this into everyday speech, some might say Jesus felt sorry for them; but compassion has a much deeper meaning than pity or sympathy. It’s more than a pat on the back, a word of encouragement, or just being kind to someone. According to Webster Dictionary, compassion literally means “suffering with another.” In other words, we don’t just realize they have pain, we actually feel that pain with them. It is responding to the other person’s need as if it were our own.

Hebrews 13:3 shows us how true compassion works. It tells us to “remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment” (New English Translation).

The Compassion of Christ

There were many traveling teachers or rabbis around the time of Christ. We know He was God robed in flesh, but what set His ministry apart from other teachers? Was it perhaps His compassion, that ability to put Himself into our shoes and feel the rock that’s bruising us as we walk? He never lost sight of what others felt and their suffering.

It is so easy to move through life distracted and oblivious to what’s happening to those around us. It’s true that many wear a mask, hiding from others what they are going through. If we ask them how they are doing, we often hear “fine, just fine.” But if we look behind the mask, we recognize their pain. That’s why we should pray for sensitivity and awareness.

Compassion Is Action

Compassion is not an emotion—it’s an action. It motivates us to help and support each other when there is a need. Author Karen Armstrong said, “In compassion, when we feel with the other, we dethrone ourselves from the center of our world and we put another person there.” Isn’t this what the Lord did in our behalf? He stepped off the throne and into our world because of His great compassion. Psalm 86:15 describes Him as being “full of compassion.” It is part of His character.  If we desire to be like Him, we will also step off the throne of our personal little kingdom to reach out to others with that same compassion.

“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous” (I Peter 3:8, NKJV).

Prayer: Lord, You are a God of compassion and mercy. You loved us enough to enter our world and step into our messy lives. Thank You for being willing to “suffer together.” Help me to recognize the needs of others and be willing to show them true compassion by feeling their need as if it were my need. Help me to always show compassion for those around me. That’s the only way I can really be like You.

 

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Mary enjoys traveling, meeting new people, and spending time with old friends. Although directionally challenged, she would rather take the back roads with their discoveries than the boredom of the interstate.

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