Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of other's distress together with a desire to alleviate it. A synonym for compassion is mercy.
Our God, the Lord God Almighty, is compassionate. If you have never been shown compassion, you need to look no further than to our Lord. Psalm 111:4 (NKJV) says the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. His compassion is coupled with graciousness, defined as being marked by kindness and courtesy. These scriptures echo the same tenderness of God:
Psalm 86:15 (NKJV) But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.
Psalm 112:4 (NKJV) Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous.
Psalm 78:38 (NKJV) But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity and did not destroy them.
Psalm 145:8 (NKJV) The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and great in mercy.
Lamentations 3:22-23 Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
Nothing is more effective in lifting the downtrodden, distressed heart than the caring compassion of another human being. The Lord readily extends His mercy and compassion to us when we feel most alone and forlorn, and we, in turn, can extend compassion to others in the most insignificant, unplanned settings.
Years ago, after completing a cancer radiation treatment, I went to the hospital’s coffee shop before departing for home. While there, I noticed a fellow radiation patient and her husband sitting at a nearby table. Their downcast eyes and somber tone of conversation touched my heart, and I began praying for them. I felt the Lord nudging me to go over and lay my hand on the woman’s shoulder. What will I say? I thought. First things first, I reasoned, hoping the words would follow the action of my obedience in approaching her.
I quietly walked over to her and laid my hand on her shoulder. She and her husband looked up at me. They recognized me from the radiation room we’d just come from. The Lord doesn’t want us to be afraid, I said. Instantly, their eyes brightened, and their countenances lifted. I’m praying for you, I assured them. Hope returned. God’s compassion alleviated their distress. There was no lengthy prayer; we didn’t exchange names; I don’t remember seeing her again. I believe the Lord took it from there.
God’s compassion was apparent in Jesus as He healed and delivered people of sickness and distress. A woman who was “bent double and could not straighten up” was in a crowd of people following Jesus. Her condition was more severe than being stooped over from old age or osteoporosis. She had suffered for eighteen years, and in her distressed, hopeless state, she made her way toward Jesus. He noticed her and had compassion on her.
Luke 13:10-13 records the event: One Sabbath day, as Jesus was teaching in a synagogue, He saw a woman who had been crippled by an evil spirit. She had been bent double for eighteen years and was unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, "Dear woman, you are healed of your sickness!" Then he touched her, and instantly she could stand straight. How she praised God!
Repeatedly the scriptures tell us that God is full of compassion—not just an occasional display of tenderheartedness and concern. He is full of compassion toward those whose hearts are downcast and distressed. If He has lifted you from that place, share His compassion with others. Shake off timidity, and obey His gentle nudging to extend compassion to others. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble (1 Peter 3:8).
© 2022, Chris Werre