The Compassion of Jesus
Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38 from the NKJV
I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. I’ve been wondering how to love the people right in front of me; the one who I’m speaking to, whether it’s at the grocery store, my son’s preschool, the coffee shop, or just my 2 year old. How can I love more? Even if it’s just my own children, how can I love them more and show them how to love? And I’ve started to tune my ears into this idea of compassion. I’m realizing more and more that Jesus’ heart was filled with compassion for those around Him. He saw through eyes of compassion.
Back around my 23rd birthday, which seems ages ago, I felt this strong desire to go to India. I knew deep down in my bones that I was to go to India. I’ve never had such a strong leading about something as I did about India, so I just pondered and prayed. Then a few months later, my dad announced to our church that a ministry trip to India had opened up, and our church would be sending a team. We would be gone over my 23rd birthday, and the trip would be around 17 or 18 days long, so I would need extended time off from work. My head said that it would never work; just the cost of the trip was way too much for me to even consider. Yet I knew I was to go, and if I did not go, I would really miss out on something. So I obeyed and committed to going, and I just trusted that the doors would open. Sure enough, everything fell right into place so that I was able to go. Can I just be honest and tell you that everything about the trip was terrifying? I was well-traveled before going to India, but nothing on this planet is like the country of India. I don’t care where you have been to before, nothing prepares you for this country and culture.
I faced many battles with fear while I was growing up, but with India, it felt like I had to face every single fear I had while on that trip. To make matters worse, I felt very alone on the team, but it just propelled me to spend more time with Him. So every night, I would pray and ask the Lord to help me overcome, but more than that, I also asked Him to give me His heart. I was bound up in shyness at that point in my life, and it had been a 10 year struggle to overcome it. I had also faced a lot of unkindness by my peers during that time in life, and I just wanted to be free of all of it. I wanted the boldness to love on people without any hindrance. I wanted to be free to go and wrap my arms around a hurting stranger. I wanted that so badly; I just wanted to wear my heart on my sleeve without fear of what people would say or think. But it seemed like a giant blockage kept me from doing so.
So one night in India as we sat through a giant crusade and prepared to be the team that would be ready to pray for the sick (and there was SO MUCH sickness). I sat and listened to the preacher, but I also just watched the crowd. I watched the demon possessed as they started to manifest, and I watched the faces of the women as they sat in the dirt and listened. I saw the lame, the deformed, the blind, and the hurting. And I asked God to break my heart. While I watched, tears started to pour down my face, and the verses from Matthew (above) started to come to life as I could see what Jesus saw. I felt Him answer my heart’s cry for more of His heart as He changed my perspective. After that night, I left India as a changed person. I still had to battle fear, and I still had to battle shyness. But I knew that I had overcome those things. I knew that I had asked for His compassion, and He answered. He freely gave it.
I still long to hold the unwanted baby, to love on the single, weary mom, and to minister to the unloved. It burns in my soul, and the longing is so strong. Yet I realize now that in my town the unloved manifests itself in the angry, bitter, hateful woman at the grocery store. I know that the woman who takes her bad day out on my kids or on my parenting is the lady who is hurting. I do my best to counter her anger by not responding with a short tongue or a defensive attitude, but by quietly choosing to be sweet. (Easier said than done.) I also realize that I almost have to look for opportunities and open doors to love on people in my day to day life. And some days, the only people I see are my co-workers and my kids. So I choose to do whatever I can to be sweet, kind, helpful, and loving. I purposely choose to not react to my four year old when he is defiant, but I decide to choose a gentle answer.
I’m also realizing that God honors day by day obedience that seems monotonous or seems completely unnoticeable. He notices, and through those days, He is preparing me for the days when I will get to love on those hearts that are so desperate. By being faithful to just love on those that are here with me now, He is preparing me to love on those who are not so easy to love on. I’m finally realizing that; I finally get it. Faithfulness in the little things is what propels us to the next thing. Letting Him develop His compassion in me now will lead to Him enlarging His heart in me. And that is what I want most in this life – more of Him, more of His heart, more of being His hands and feet to this world.
I also realize some of my posts are probably very repetitive. Yet this blog has been a journal of my journey into loving more, learning, growing, and realizing that motherhood is not hindrance to my heart’s desire but it’s actually become the biggest teacher in preparing me to love more. If I can patiently, calmly, and sweetly hold my 2 year old while he screams, hits, and has a full on tantrum, then I’m getting somewhere close to realizing what unconditional love looks like. If I can love my 4 year old through his bad attitudes, his bad temper, and his fears, I can love others through the same. Yes, I have been gifted to love them like no other since they are my children, but I’ve also asked God to give me the same heart to love those who aren’t my children. I know that He will answer that prayer, and I know that He is indeed honored and so willing to give me more of His heart for His children.
I so live by the conviction that God didn’t put us on this planet so that we would live happy, blessed little lives content to just love the family He’s given us. That life is a gift and a bonus, and I’m so thankful for it. But in light of eternity, the real reason He created us is so that we would know Him, love Him, and pour out His love to others. He put us here to be laborers to go out and bring home His children. This world is full of lost, hurting, lonely, unloved people who don’t know that a gracious, loving God is waiting for them to come home. I am setting my heart to be one who will go out to the highways and byways to tell those people that Someone desperately loves them and desires to know them.