Compassion and Suffering

“Be compassionate as your Father is compassionate”. “Be holy as your Father is holy.” Two quotes from Jesus where He substitutes but one word. Could it be that He is communicating the same thing in both? Could it be that holiness is defined by Jesus as God-like compassion? To act in compassion is to be like God.

The majority of the world today lives below the level of the relative “prosperity” of those of the Amazon Basin, where the common wage is about $10/day. In the Amazon, the majority live on less than this and the vast majority of people in the world, >80 percent, work to survive on less than this.  More than half of the world’s population live on less than $2.50/day!  The U.S., in contrast, has 5% of the world’s population and consumes 50% of the world’s natural resources.

How did Jesus desire those He blesses with more than this to respond? He gave some negative examples. He told the rich young ruler to sell what he had and give to the poor. In a story, He made a point to the formerly rich dead man in eternal torment that He neglected the poor man Lazarus during his pitiful life. He said it is more blessed to give than to receive. He told a story where a poor, beaten man was helped by a stranger and called this stranger a true “neighbor”. Numerous times Jesus is seen responding to suffering with compassion for the hurting person’s circumstances. John says that if we see our brother in need and don’t respond, how can the love of God be in us?

He told a parable where men who were given much, invested what they were given and were rewarded.  We can "consume" or we can invest in those who are in a place of needing the resources we have been given. All suffering has purpose.  The purpose is to draw men to their loving Maker.  Our Father LOVES using you and me to respond with compassion and love to those suffering.

The way of the Kingdom is one person pays and another benefits. Jesus is our model.  God gives and we give away what He gives us.  We are stewards (not owners) of His resources.  If we see suffering, we are called to "pay" what those suffering cannot, in order to relieve the suffering.  This is often at personal cost/risk!  Our motivation must be compassion, for the one suffering.  Anything done with any motive other than love is worthless in the Kingdom.

How do we respond to the world’s poverty?  We go to those suffering.  We enter their lives, love and serve them, communicate to them the value they have in the eyes of their Father, and teach them to be stewards and comforters. We support and encourage those who go.  We not only provide fish to the hungry but we teach them how to fish.  We pay the price for another’s comfort and blessing.  We lay aside any desire to be blessed and focus on the blessing of the other.  We bring attention to One who’s compassion is so selfless and beyond our ability to understand.  The holy One, the compassionate One. 

Let’s look again at the enormous need in the world today, and respond.

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