walk in the word
Category: Relying on God
“Seeing the people, [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed.. . .” Matthew 9:36
Don’t you love the way the Bible mirrors real life? Stress is not a twenty-first century invention.
Wander through the pages of Scripture and you’ll discover people thousands of years ago meeting God at pivotal, even stressful, moments of life. God does the same thing today. When I’m at a tough spot He ministers to me first through His Word and then through a compassionate word from a brother or sister in Christ.
The apostle Paul was all about this kind of personal, one-on-one ministry. Read through his letters and you’ll meet dozens of people who needed someone to step into the middle of their situation and extend some stress-relief.
Take Timothy, for example. When Paul wrote his second letter (2 Timothy) to his young protégé, Timothy felt seriously discouraged. Can you feel it?
When he got Paul’s letter, Timothy felt far from God. His distress had isolated him from the truth and for others. What he needed most was to be reminded that someone really cared and was praying for him. Perhaps you need that today, too.
Look over Timothy’s shoulder and read Paul’s letter with him: “As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy” (2 Timothy 1:4). Now that would be comforting news from any friend, but I would guess this ministered to Timothy even more since he knew where Paul was when he wrote it. Paul was on death row—expecting to be escorted out at any moment. At this time of intense personal crisis you’d think Paul would be begging for comfort for himself. Instead, he was giving it! That’s compassion!
Notice that Paul wrote, “As I remember your tears.” We don’t know what took Timothy to tears, but Paul knew; it didn’t need to be rehearsed. Apparently, Timothy had been so broken that he had wept openly before Paul. That’s the mark of true friendship, as Romans 12:15 says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” A friend steps in between you and your stress with a timely word of comfort.
Several summers ago, a distraught woman named Sophia White burst into the nursery at the UCLA Medical Center waving a .38 caliber handgun. She fired off six shots at a nurse named Elizabeth Stanton, whom she accused of stealing her husband. The nurse stumbled and ran into the emergency room with Sophia following closely behind. Amazingly, a third woman, Joan, stepped between them, moved toward the woman with the gun, and embraced her. She put her arms around Sophia and pulled her head in close and whispered, “I know you’re hurting. We’re going to help you.” Sophia relaxed her body for a moment, but then raised the gun as though to kill herself. Joan pulled Sophia’s arm back down again and said, “No, no. Don’t do that. We’re here for you.”
This kind of desperation isn’t just a fluke. People needing a compassionate rescue are all around us. Sometimes we’re the ones who feel so defeated that we think we can’t go on another day. I know you know what I mean.
So here’s your challenge—for whichever place you are living today.
If you’re feeling isolated, you might be thinking, “I am completely alone in this world.” Listen—you’re not. Waiting for you at your church is a room filled with people who would love to give you some of the strength and encouragement you need. By faith, I call you to step forward and make your needs known to a few godly people. Contrary to what you may think, they may not be aware of what’s going on in your life. In humility, ask God to help you move toward them. Let those who love God love you, too.
If you are in a good place today, then look for someone who needs your compassion. Hurting people are everywhere. You may work along side them. You may live next door to them. God may put you next to them in line at the grocery store . . . in a long line so you have time to connect with them. Compassion is a willingness to feel what they’re feeling. Godly compassion takes it one step further; when your heart is gripped by God’s intense love for people, you count it a joy to stand with them in the middle of their pain and escort them in prayer to God’s presence.
Start today. Follow the apostle Paul’s model in caring for others. . . or better yet, be like Jesus who, “Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed . . .” (Matthew 9:36).
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