Webster’s Dictionary defines the word compassion as “the sympathetic consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” In my opinion, we tend to spend more time in the “sympathetic consciousness” phase and little time in the “desire to alleviate it” phase. Let’s take a look at this definition and break it down so that a “cranie” like me can wrap my fractured brain around it.
When we think about the sympathetic consciousness of someone else’s problems, it sounds as if we are thinking about how terrible their situation must be. I know that I go through this phase several times each day, looking at others and thinking to myself just how bad they may have it, and how lucky I am not to be in their shoes. I’m also making note of their present condition so that I can be better prepared to avoid the same circumstances in the future. In the end, this thought pattern does not make me feel any better about myself, only satisfied that I’m not the person I have just seen.
When we think of the desire to alleviate the problems or burdens being placed on our neighbors or friends, we tend to shy away from getting involved in fear that their condition or situation may be a bit contagious, or that we may be influenced to move in a direction we know is very harmful to our future health and wellbeing. We all know that Jesus Christ did not practice this in any form at all. It was just His nature to help, to heal, to assume our burdens in order for our lives to become much easier to live out. He showed the ultimate compassion as He suffered His destiny on the cross. The bible teaches us that our God will never leave us nor forsake us. That, alone, is a huge demonstration of sheer compassion, and only someone as big as our God could manage to live up to such a guarantee. It’s a very compassionate promise, not only developing a “sympathetic consciousness “of another’s problems, but taking action to alleviate the burdens, while helping us to grow more like Christ in the entire process. This is an amazing experience, much like cocooning where the ground hugging caterpillar becomes the beautiful butterfly in flight. God’s grace enables us to overcome our problems and to carry on proudly and without shame.
I truly believe that if we all take that next step of true compassion and attempt to alleviate the problems or burdens weighing heavy on our families, friends and neighbors, the world will be forced to become a much better place to live. We would all be enveloped in a world of compassion, just as Christ wants it, and demands it.
Our savior never hesitates to jump right in regardless of the water temperatures and hold out his hand to a drowning soul who has a desperate need. We all know that we can turn to Him in these times of need, where we are mere mortals who do not have all the answers. I am comforted by the fact that I can give all my burdens to Jesus Christ, any time, any day, and expect the very same compassion from Him each and every time. When we are confronted with a neighbor’s problem, we need to jump right in and let the Holy Spirit guide us, speak through us, and deliver our message of compassion. I have experienced this over the last few days, and it is simply an awesome, majestic experience to have His words flow through you to help someone who is searching.
The “cranie” comment refers to the several brain surgeries I have had over the years. There is no offense intended, just lots of compassion for other “cranies” who know what I mean, right guys?