I’m excited to be part of Suzanne Eller’s #LiveFree Thursday linkup. The following post ties into her prompt, ‘into the deep.’
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I’ve made you with some Scripture verses about courage and compassion. I pray the words of these Scriptures encourage you go bravely and lovingly into the deep places of need you encounter this week.
When we care about someone, we hurt when they hurt. When their plight is so big that we feel powerless to make a dent in the situation, it can be easier to just avoid getting involved. What makes us lean into the pain instead of flee from it?
Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com © Artem_Furman | Scripture from BibleGateway.com
When I look into someone’s eyes and see deep pain, I am distressed by my pathetic efforts to have a meaningful effect on their situation. But I remember what it felt like to be miserable, feel unlovable, and have someone look into my eyes and bear my pain with me.
Little moments of grace did have an impact on me. It mattered to me when someone entered into my mess, even though my mess remained.
And that gives me some consolation that even though my little drop in the bucket won’t eradicate the whole situation of someone’s suffering, I can at least show them they matter. I may feel worse after the encounter, but hopefully, the person I reached out to will feel better in some way.
Giving Grace Can Be Painful
Caring about someone does mean we will hurt when they hurt. And yet, when one has received grace one feels compelled to offer grace, even if it hurts. Shutting out the ache that results from compassionate engagement only shuts us in a self-centered, lonely prison.
I feel deeply ashamed at how often I find myself slamming that cell door in an attempt to avoid discomfort. Sitting in my illusion of a pain-proof existence, I am completely undone when I consider how much agony Jesus endured to leave the glory of heaven and enter into the disarray of our hopeless situation. If he had not participated in our suffering I would still be without hope. We all would.
In my case, and perhaps in yours, people who had experienced Jesus’ grace in their lives were willing to enter into the uncomfortable chaos of my life and show me grace. What if they had stayed in their safe little comfort zones instead?
Compelled by Grace Not Guilt
It isn’t guilt that pushes open the door of the bunker in which I barricade myself from feeling the suffering of others. It is the awareness of the grace that has been poured into me which compels me out the door.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9 NET)
Grace is offered freely to us and we give it freely to others. But make no mistake, being a grace-giver costs us. But I think it’s a price worth paying. Lord, give me the courage and the will to pay it.
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Jeff Goins’ post, The Beginning of Compassion: How to Be a Better Person, moved me. This post actually began as a comment I left on his blog. He beautifully put into words the pain that comes with compassionate involvement.
Hopefully, you’ll join in this conversation that spans multiple blogs by leaving a comment here on my blog. I’d love to hear about your experiences.