When I became a Christian, I was not a nice person. My life did a complete turanaround. Almost everything I previously believed, every behavior I’d become accustomed to, changed. One of the biggest transformations occurred after I had a dream one night.
In that dream I was climbing a steep mountain path in a storm. The light was dim and the rugged terrain dropped into an abyss on one side. Rain poured down as I struggled to get to the top. I didn’t understand why I had to make this climb, I only knew it was imperative.
When I reached the top, the rain stopped and the sun peeked out. The incredible view did not compare to the “person” who stepped out to greet me. While I couldn’t see Him completely, I understood this was Jesus and He had a message for me. He said, “You must show compassion. Learn compassion.”
There might have been other elements to the dream, but that part is still clear even after over forty years. When I woke up the next morning, the first thing I did was grab a dictionary and look up the meaning of compassion. Yep, I was so bad I didn’t even understand the word.
From Webster’s Dictionary: Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
God wants us to be like Him, which is why He asks us to be compassionate. “But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” Psalm 86:15 (NKJV)
Throughout the Bible it is apparent how compassionate God is. His longsuffering for the Israelites as they turned away from Him over and over, yet He took them back, is also a glimpse of how God views us and the mistakes we make. His compassion shines through as He loves us despite the wrongs we commit.
Being compassionate and having a conscious sympathy for what others are going through is so important. In Ezekiel 9: 3-6, we can see the importance of this emotion. In chapter eight, Ezekiel is given a vision of the abominations being done by God’s people. Instead of seeking God, the people are involved in idol worship and other abominations. God is very angry with them. God calls out and six men approach who have battle axes in their hands and one has a writer’s inkhorn.
“Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side; and the LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”” Ezekial 9:3-4 (NKJV)
God asked that those who sighed and cried over the abominations be marked. The sighing is an inner acknowledging of the wrong that is happening. The crying is a reference to crying out to God over the wrong or tragedy that’s happened. Those people given the special mark of God were the ones who hurt inside over the abominations and who prayed.
What about the others? Their fate was not so happy.
“To the others He said in my hearing, “Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the temple.” Ezekiel 9:5-6 (NKJV)
This seems so very harsh to us today, but we can see the importance of being God like and showing compassion to others. It is imperative that we learn this concept. Daily we are given the opportunity to “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” We can do this in physical sense sometimes, but we can always do this by bringing these needs before the Lord in prayer.
Some are easier than others. For instance:
Fires throughout the West and other parts of the world—Pray for the safety of the people, the firefighters, those working to rescue pets and livestock, the wildlife whose habitat is destroyed, people’s homes, etc.
The pandemic—Pray for those afflicted and those who have lost loved ones and friends, for the health care workers, for people to be compassionate with one another and now grow tired of doing good, for the scientists working tirelessly to find an answer in the form of a vaccine, for patience in the people waiting for the vaccine, for those who have lost jobs, etc. Consider those who are compromised and be considerate by wearing a mask to protect them.
Tornadoes and Hurricanes—Pray for families whose homes were destroyed, for the workers helping to rebuild, for those who lost loved ones, for those who have opened homes to help others, etc.
Some areas may not be as easy to show compassion, but it is still important. Remember, we can’t see the heart as God does, so we have to trust Him when he say to be compassionate.
Black Lives Matter—Whether we agree or not, these people have some issue that is hurting them. We must show compassion by trying to understand their need, by reaching out and caring, by having a desire to alleviate the hurt being done to them. We must not turn our backs on people without asking God to show us how to be compassionate and caring, by praying for them, by praying for understanding and God’s will.
Rioters—Yes, even those who are destroying property are doing so for a reason that makes sense to them. Maybe we don’t understand, but we can still pray for them. We can pray they seek God and find peace with Him. We can pray for understanding of changes that need to happen, perhaps on both sides. We can pray that God enlightens everyone and draws us to Him.
Most of all, we can pray to have compassion for those around us that God brings into our lives. We can pray not to react in anger but to have the longsuffering God demonstrates. We can keep our focus on Him and trust that He will fulfill His will in what is happening in our world.
There are times I still feel like I’m struggling up a steep path in the storm with rain trying to wash me off. Life can be like that and 2020 has certainly been a storm of sorts. Yet, through it all, those words spoken to me in a dream over forty years ago still resonate.