I joined up with a movement of over #1000speak bloggers to write about #compassion today! This movement has inspired me to look deeper at compassion than ever before. I don’t just want to define it or explain it… I want to explore it.
Last year on a hike with my step mom Maritza, I discovered a fish in a part of the creek that was no longer connected to the flowing waters. This fish was on its side, suffocating in just an inch or two of water. I felt a surge of compassion for this fish and began looking for some way to rescue it. We found a stick and were able to push this fish up into the air and watch it land freely into the flowing waters of the creek. We applauded and laughed and celebrated being able to set it free. It felt really good to be able to rescue it from its suffering.
Months later, Maritza shared an appreciation story about this moment at a conference and talked about how she appreciated that I had such a compassionate heart. I remember sitting in the audience feeling tears swell up behind my eyes in response. I hadn't realized that this simple, almost instinctual reaction to seeing suffering was out of the ordinary.
Compassion is one of those things that I consider part of my built in hard wiring... It's just how I was designed to respond when others are in pain. It's part of my "normal". I’m not sure if I was born with a heart of compassion or if I learned it. My mother has a heart of compassion too, so perhaps it was from her.
Sometimes having a heart of compassion doesn’t quite end up in a celebration by the water’s edge. Sometimes I can't rescue, help, or alleviate the suffering around me.
When that happens, I hurt too.
The more I think about this, the more I think about someone else who feels compassion on a regular basis. Jesus.
I believe that it was because of His compassion that He bore the cross. His compassion is why He offers forgiveness so freely.
How do I know this?
"But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity"
And I remember the Immanuel Process I experienced that led me to a deeper place of forgiveness than I had ever experienced before. (Read about that here) Compassion in this place gave me the freedom to forgive.
As I explore this more deeply I discover that in the Old Testament, the word for compassion is “rahum” and it also means mercy. It’s not that it has another definition… it takes both words to fully envelop the one. These two words are one word in Hebrew. Compassion and Mercy. Rahum.
It's used only in reference to God, because we can’t ever grasp the extent of His compassion, His mercy that leads Him to forgive. Our ability to feel compassion is barely a taste of God's compassion.
This word belongs to Him and we can only carry pieces of it.
The compassion I feel may have its roots in mercy. Mercy for those that have been abandoned. Mercy for those that have been victims, mercy for those that can’t help themselves, and even mercy for those that simply don’t realize they need help.
When the nudge of compassion compels me to act or even to forgive, I can move freely into that call. And when the nudge of compassion comes to a place where I simply cannot handle it, I can return it to the ultimate compassion bearer, the rahum God- Immanuel.
He is with us, he is capable and He is the only one who can rescue and ease the suffering of the world with His compassion and mercy.