When you hear the word “compassion,” what comes to mind?
I think of compassion in terms of kindness, gentleness, care, concern…I don’t usually think of compassion in terms of bravery. But that’s exactly what this week’s focus on Cultivating Compassion invites us to consider: Compassion helps us be brave.
I’ve heard it said that becoming a parent means letting your heart walk around outside your body. But I don’t think that description is just for parents. I think it’s true of anyone who cultivates compassion. Compassion means actually being willing to let our hearts loose in the world to feel someone else’s pain, to let the hurt and sadness and fear and struggle of others touch our hearts.
Cultivating compassion means seeing another’s hurt and feeling another’s hurt. But when we feel another’s pain, we become motivated to do whatever we can to ease their pain – even if that means doing what is otherwise scary, or risky, or dangerous. That’s how compassion helps us be brave.
Now “brave” is not a word that we hear much about in the Bible. (It’s true – I actually looked it up. The word “brave” only appears about two dozen times, and all but three of those instances are in reference to the Maccabean revolt. Being brave is associated with war and conflict.) Yet the Bible is full of stories of brave people – people who have acted with courage, faced their fears, or put themselves in danger because of their faith.
This week, we hear the story of four men who carry their friend to see Jesus (Mark 2:1-12). When they can’t get through the crowds of people, they lower their friend through the roof to be healed. It’s a story that reminds us that being brave isn’t reserved for those on the frontlines. Being brave looks like friends who show up and find a way to help us get what we need, even if it means pushing through crowds and making a hole in a roof of a house that isn’t ours. Being brave looks like acknowledging that we need help and accepting it when its offered, as the man who was brought to Jesus did. Being brave looks like being open to having our minds changed, as I pray happened to the scribes who watched this scene unfold.
Being brave means not knowing exactly how we will be moved to act when we cultivate compassion…and doing it anyway, always and only with the help of God!
~ Pastor H.
PS – It’s not too late to sign up for Compassion Camp! Send me an email and I’ll give you access to the site where you can download videos and activities and conversation starters that you can do at your convenience with others in your household to cultivate compassion. Read the full details in the STAR!