Compassion is not an option

When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” – Luke 7:13

Compassion is your pain in my heart. It’s a quality sadly lacking in our society, but one which Jesus exemplified constantly. He is called the Man of Sorrows because He took the pain of people into His own heart. And yet the irony is that the Book of Hebrews tells us He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows (1:9).

How could He be the Man of Sorrows and yet anointed with the oil of gladness above any other human being who has ever lived—radiating such joy that multitudes would be drawn to Him? These are two qualities which seem contradictory—until we remember the words He taught us when He said, ‘Blessed,’ or happy, ‘are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (Matthew 5:4).

One of the keys to happiness is to allow sorrow to penetrate our heart.
Eastern mysticism totally rejects this viewpoint. A foundational principle of Buddha’s teaching was to avoid pain and sorrow, for if mankind would enter into the state of detached feeling, of nirvana, there would be no more jealousy or envy, no more wars and fighting.

This thinking has affected us more than we know. Having permeated the ’60s culture, it was Eastern thought which caused us to say, ‘I am a rock. I am an island,’ as we sang along with Simon and Garfunkel.

Jesus, however, came on the scene and annihilated that mentality by saying, ‘Happy is the man not who detaches himself, but who mourns, who is heartbroken, for he is the one who will be comforted.’

‘Comfort’ is an old English word containing the same root as that of the word ‘fortify.’ In other words, Jesus said that the one who is mourning will also be the one who is fortified. In the Garden of Gethsemane so deeply was Jesus mourning that blood burst from His forehead. And yet Luke tells us that even as He was agonizing in prayer, an angel came and comforted, sustained, and fortified Him (Luke 22:43).

When is the last time I have been at the place of being pained in prayer for someone else’s problem, someone else’s sin? Could it be that I am not comforted by the Comforter or the angelic presence because I am not doing what Jesus did? Blessed are they who mourn, who plunge into life and feel the pain of life. They shall be comforted.

Are you unhappy? Do you feel comfortless? Take seriously what Jesus said. It’s an irony. It’s a mystery. It runs crosscurrent to the thinking of our society. And yet the key to happiness is to mourn for others, to carry someone else’s pain in your heart.

A Day’s Journey – SearchLight, 2003, Calvary Chapel Publishing

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