The gift of compassion is a wondrous thing.
God wants us to be compassionate towards people. He wants us to help those who are hurting.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:32).
Have you ever tried to share a hurt with someone only to have it minimized by their dispassionate, flippant, thoughtless reply?
It doesn’t feel good, does it? So, don’t do it to others.
However, we do not have to be strong in a mercy gift to show compassion for someone. Just think how you would want to be treated if the situation were reversed, and act accordingly.
This is the golden rule:
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you (Matt 7:12a, NIV).
We can all learn compassion.
Having been a pastor for many years, I have noticed that church people struggle with showing compassion. It does not come naturally to all.
In times of difficulty, we all need compassion, even when we are to blame for our situation or have made a mistake costing us dearly.
How difficult it seems to be for people to show compassion to others without including their own suffering. Someone shares a hurt with you and you are already off telling them how you suffered before their sentence is even finished.
No, that is not compassion!
To listen patiently is compassion.
To feel deeply for another person is compassion.
To express this deep feeling as empathy means you would say something like:
“I don’t know what to say, but I am here for you”.
“I can’t imagine how this feels, and I am hearing you”.
My definition of compassion would be: to truly see someone in their suffering.
How do we comfort others?
How do we show compassion or mercy to those who are hurting?
Here are 10 ways to express comfort:
- Be present
- Do not think you have to know what to say
- Do not use trite phrases
- Put yourself in their place
- Show your heart
- Say caring words
- Sometimes say nothing at all
- Keep showing up
- Think of practical, kind things to do
- Do not ignore the person or the situation
When my daughter was experiencing infertility and mourning over lost pregnancies, she often commented on the crazy things people said to her.
Be aware of unthinking, uncaring and judgmental statements.
Weigh your words well.
You can even practice on a friend or a spouse before you go to make that compassionate visit to a cancer sufferer. Rehearse what you can say that will be profitable and caring.
People who are in need of comfort do not want to hear your ‘good advice’
or empty words of platitudes such as ‘God only takes the good ones’
or ‘you must be very special for God to allow you to suffer’, etc.
Face it; you really don’t know what the hurting person is experiencing inside.
You may even have been through the same kind of suffering, such as losing a loved one, but you don’t know how that person is feeling inside.
You only know how you felt inside at the time.
For you to show compassion and for it to be felt and experienced by the other party, you have to be fully present in the conversation.
Be really there, focused in body and mind on what they are saying.
This is the greatest gift you can give another human being. Your attention, your time, your focus on that person and their suffering brings relief to their aloneness.
It expands my world to know someone has heard me. I am not alone. You may not be able to relieve my suffering, but I am not alone.
How have you felt compassion shown or not shown to you when you have been in need and how has it made you feel?
Leave a comment and join the conversation.