Sunday, February 17, 2013

Called to Compassion

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them,
Because they were distressed and dispirited
Like sheep without a shepherd.
~ Matthew 9:36

Jesus Christ was a man with a mission.

He was also a man who had compassion for others.

That is why I am finding a recent conversation with a friend from church to (still) be so distressing. In fact, I was so angry after our last conversation that I was shaking when I got home.

Truth be told, this friendship has been nothing but taxing since it first began. However, things really came to a head (for me) the other morning when, during the course of discussing our plans for the rest of the day, my friend told me that they have no compassion for others and resented having to go help a friend of theirs later that day.

I was so stunned by my friend's comment that I probably looked like a deer caught in headlights -- especially since this person has been the recipient of nothing BUT endless help and compassion over the past year by friends, fellow believers and our entire pastoral staff! In fact, I am not sure if I even responded to that comment before my friend went on to say that this past year has been the worst year of their life (and the lives of family members), and that they (basically) had to learn to suck it up and deal with it all by themselves in order to survive, so everyone else should have to learn to survive on their own, as well! Huh ...

The funny thing is that once my friend made that comment about not having compassion for others, I was able to get some perspective about a previous conversation we had had more than a year ago. While I do not trust others easily, I thought I would try (yet again) to open myself up to this person, in the hopes of cultivating our friendship. When I did, however, there was absolutely no compassion expressed during that conversation. At first, I could not put my finger on what it was that bothered me so much, but now I have complete clarity!

There's an old saying that goes something like this: When people tell you who they are, believe them.

Hindsight being 20/20, time and time again this has proven to be true. However, I do have to say one thing about this relationship. While this person has continually shown that they have no compassion for others, and that they are completely self-centered and self-obsessed, God has graciously used this relationship to reveal situations in my own life that need to be addressed!

And, while lack of compassion and total self-centeredness are not the issues at hand, He has certainly used the character traits I am continually observing in my friend to show me how certain behaviors in my own life are keeping me stuck exactly where I am.

The whole purpose for starting this blog was to help me work through the challenges I was having in trying to understand the sovereignty of God -- especially in relationship to the abuse that He allowed me to suffer. Gratefully, this blog has also provided me with a platform to process all of my other thoughts and questions regarding the concept of His complete and total Sovereignty ... Period!

So, as I have thought through this particular relationship over the last several days, I am actually grateful He brought it into my life, because I now have a much clearer picture of some of the changes I need to make in my own life. That is not to say they will be easy changes to make, as years of ingrained thoughts and behaviors need to be changed. Nonetheless, however, I am grateful to my Heavenly Father for loving me enough to show me these things!

And, as far as my friendship with this friend goes, I am not sure what happens next. I really need to take a break from our relationship. In fact, because this relationship has been so toxic and so draining for so long, I actually had to have a conversation with my pastor about it quite a while ago, just to get a biblical perspective on how to handle it. Funny enough, it was during that conversation that I found out how much help and compassion was being extended to my friend, because he told me it was okay to take a break, as there were plenty of other people taking care of my friend, and loving and supporting them through this difficult time in their life! Unfortunately, circumstances are such that the kind of break I desire is not actually possible.

So for now, I must rest in this truth ...

The Lord is my portion ...
Therefore I have hope in Him.
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, 
To the person who seeks Him.
~Lamentations 3:24-25  

Praying that God will continue to strengthen my compassion for others. Also praying that He will help my friend recognize and be grateful for the grace and compassion they have received from others over the past year, so that they can now extend that same grace and compassion to others in the years to come ...

The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning,
Great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23  

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