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The Need for Understanding Compassion

What is Compassion

What is compassion? And what is the need for understanding compassion.  We each need to understand the necessity of compassion. When we open the Bible to learn about compassion, we’re faced with dozens of references to this very topic. We learn that we should be compassionate to others; that God is compassionate to humanity; we see people crying out for compassion. So what is compassion? At its very core, it is the sensitivity to the suffering of ourselves and others. It’s the desire to help ease the suffering, whether that’s experienced in our lives or in the lives of others.

As one can imagine, Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. Not only did he have compassion for many people as he traveled through the countryside; but he also had so much sympathy for humanity, that he was willing to give up his life for us, that we might be saved. Now that is compassion.

What is Compassion

While it’s unlikely that any of us will lay down our lives for the sake of someone else, we will likely be faced with scenarios that cause us to choose whether or not we will have compassion. It seems that there are varying degrees to which each one of us might feel compelled to respond with compassion. For example, you pass a homeless person on the street begging for money –  do you have compassion and give them a few dollars? Or, say, your grandchild falls off their bike and skins their knee – do you
have compassion and wash out the cut and bandage it up? Now, you might suggest that those examples are like comparing apples and oranges; and maybe you’re right. But it still remains that in both circumstances we will choose whether to have empathy or not based on a lot of determining factors. When Precious was born, her mother was only in her second year of high school. She wasn’t quite prepared for the responsibilities of parenthood, especially alone. 

When Precious was born a little underweight, but there was a more pressing concern: an enlarged tongue. This condition is known as macroglossia. It meant that Precious had a difficult time feeding. She spent so much time in and out of the hospital trying to get help.

The condition also made things difficult socially in her village. She became the girl “with the tongue sticking out.” People from around the area would come just to see her and gauk. Truly awful. The exact opposite of compassion. Things became so bad that eventually  Precious was abandoned by her mom and raised by her Grandmother.

Her grandmother was determined to help Precious.

After visiting several hospitals, Precious’s grandmother finally found BethanyKids where Precious was able to receive multiple surgeries to reduce her tongue and help her properly close her mouth. Surgeries only happened because her grandmother, the surgeons, the staff, and donors halfway around the world chose to have empathy towards someone.

Discussing What Compassion Is

1. How would you personally define empathy from a biblical perspective? Do you think that this definition is similar/different to the world’s definition of compassion?

2. Think of a time that someone was compassionate to
you. What were the circumstances?

3. How does it make you feel when someone shows
your compassion?

4. Is empathy something that comes naturally to
you? Why or why not?

Pray: Be gracious to me, O Lord. Allow me to show others
the same unhindered care that you have shown to me. Let me not be stifled by my own limits or concerns, but rather overflowing with compassionate love for all those that cross my path.  Do: This week look for ways to show care – whether big or small – to those around you. Perhaps lend a listening
ear to someone who is experiencing difficulties; buy a meal for a struggling family; donate to a worthy cause, such as Material used with permission by BethanyKids.org 

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The Need for Understanding Compassion