As we spoke over coffee today we both lamented a lack of compassion. We want to have compassion for the people we serve. It is a population rife with poverty, illness, mental ill-health, and dysfunction in relationships. In fact, I want compassion to ooze out of every pore…. the compassion that comes from Christ. (How does the song go? “They will know we are Christian by our love, by our love….”) But many days, while I interact with these precious people, I feel my own lack of compassion, instead of the overwhelming love of Christ for them.
My friend wisely knows to pray. Whenever she feels that lack, she immediately turns to Christ and asks for what she needs. Sometimes I forget. Maybe even more often than not, I forget.
Christ can fulfill our every need, our every lack.
As I drove to the hospital to pick up one of ‘our peeps’, I mulled over the conversation. I pulled up and saw my friends, one in a wheelchair, and I was struck by the sight of someone so vulnerable and hurting. I helped get her into the car; she was so cold… improperly dressed for the weather outside today. I cranked the heat and then wrestled the wheelchair into the back. As we drove, she relayed that 2017 had not begun well. I could see that. A recent large scar, all around her forehead and the side of her face, the result of a fall; a Bell’s palsy slowed her speech and made her face seem disfigured. She spoke of cancer that has returned, of possible palliative care, and of the life that she does not want to live right now because it is too hard.
And suddenly, my hardened heart swelled with compassion. This woman beside me, a victim of a lifetime of abuse, of dysfunction, of hardship… well, Jesus loves her. And I felt that love and compassion that Christ has for her.
Outside her apartment building, she asked me “Why? Why is this happening to me? What have I done wrong?” My heart ached. I looked deep into her eyes and assured her that she has done nothing wrong. Nothing. This is not some ‘punishment’ for misdeeds, from an angry god. She is so discouraged and feels that life is bleak. And like many of us when we suffer, she is asking ‘why’.
I told her that I did not have the answer to her ‘why’. But I do know that despite the crap going on, that God loves her so much. I knew it, because I felt it. It was not a compassion that I dredged up from somewhere within myself, it was not a love from my own heart… it can only be the unconditional love of the Father for one of his precious children.
Father God, thank you for providing me with compassion when I cannot will it into existence. Thank you for your love, pouring through me; it is a privilege to be the vessel through which you pour your Spirit. Thank you for giving me a desire to pray. Thank you for using me, though my faith is sometimes small, though my will is sometimes weak. Thank you that you do not expect me to conjure up what I need, but to simply remember to turn to you and ask for what I am lacking.