Monday, February 27, 2012

#10 Compassion.

2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. [2nd Corinthians 1:2-4]

As of late there has been a lot of suffering in and around my life.  Now, as my calling as pastor, that is something one must expect.  People get ill and you visit them.  People get sick and you pray for them.  You anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.  People die and you officiate their funerals and you grieve alongside the family.  But there is a difference between suffering in another and suffering in your own life.  As of late, there has been suffering in my life.  

My Father-in-Law is exceptionally ill.  Right after my two youngest girls were born he had a level 4 tumor removed from his brain.  After surgery he had seizures.  Months passed and then he had much more severe seizures.  He had a stroke.  Now he is currently in a rehabilitation facility and may come home soon - but not because he is better; because insurance is running out for the hospital stay.  He still cannot walk on his own and he will need assistance with almost everything.  

I have also experienced some very recent emotional downs.  [No need to go into them and please do not begin to worry - everything is just fine.]  I am a jolly fellow a great majority of the time.  I am not used to being sad for any long extended period of time.  And that still applies.  As I write this, honestly, I am doing much better.  However, I am convinced that the Lord allowed me to go through this so that I could learn the principle of the above Scripture.  

You see, without suffering there is no compassion.  If you are a person that is immune to, or at least does not take seriously, suffering, then very often you will have a lack of compassion.  God very often allows suffering in our lives to understand this principle.  If we were not sinful we would simply be compassionate due to our holy nature; however, we are sinful.  Therefore by nature we are selfish - and we do not want other people ruining our good time with their suffering.  One serious bout of suffering will relieve us of this hypocrisy.  To walk in the shoes of one who suffers is a serious thing.  

But Jesus comforts us.  You and I have to remember that we have a suffering God.  And I want to make clear that it was not just the cross where Jesus suffered. [As if that was not enough]  Jesus is God.  Prior to His becoming flesh He was in the heavens being constantly glorified.  Becoming human, for God, is a humiliation.  To thirst, to tire, to grow weary, to sweat, to hunger, to be tempted, etc...these are all unique sufferings that God went through for us.  He simply claimed the victory in every way. 

Jesus speaks a word of comfort in the midst of suffering.  We pray to Him and He hears.  We read His Word and the Spirit speaks.  We sing songs of praise and we are uplifted.  He comforts us.  But as in most things He comforts us for more than simply to comfort us - so that we can learn the principle of compassion and begin to be compassionate towards those who suffer.  

I now watch my wife suffer over her father [and her mother suffers attempting to minister to her husband.]  I see the weariness in my brother-in-law, and I pray that the Lord gives me compassion every day.  During my times of emotional sadness, the Lord used people to help me in my emotional suffering - they were used to give me wonderful words of wisdom.  One thing I have learned as of late is this - there may be many reasons why we suffer, but one reason is to teach us compassion.  I pray that I can showcase the compassion of Christ for my family and others.  Lord, help us have compassion.  Amen.

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