The definition for compassion? Dictionary.com says this:
“Compassion: A feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering [make the suffering go away]”.
If we put this definition in simpler terms it becomes this:
“Being so overwhelmed with love for others that their suffering breaks your heart and moves you to act on their behalf in some way.”
In the Bible, compassion is also called “pity” or “mercy”. In Luke 6:11-17 there is a story that illustrates compassion so well. There was a widow in a city called Nain that Jesus and the disciples visited when the widow’s only son had just died: “When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her”. Jesus tells her to stop weeping and then raises her son to life again.
Because of His overwhelming love for people, the Lord was filled with compassion for the sadness and suffering of this poor woman who had just lost her son and His compassion moved Him to act on her behalf. Maybe you don’t know anyone who has recently lost someone they love, but I bet you know someone who is being bullied. I bet you know someone who has a particularly tough life at home. I bet you know someone who just feels very lonely.
Does their suffering move you to compassion? Does their situation break your heart and move you to action? You don’t have to raise people from the dead to act on your compassion. Acting on your compassion could mean inviting a lonely person to hang out with you at lunch or after school. It could mean taking time away from what you’re doing to sit, listen and offer encouragement to someone with a difficult home life. It could also mean standing up for someone being bullied.
Today I would like to offer you a simple prayer to increase your capacity for compassion. I pray this prayer myself several times a week. If this is your honest desire, then God is faithful and will provide you what you seek.
Lord, I want to have a heart of compassion like Jesus. I want the situations and suffering of others to break my heart and cause me to act. Lord would you please break my heart for the people and situations that break your heart so that they can know the love of Jesus by my actions? Amen.
Psalm 116:5-6 – Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; Yes, our God is compassionate. The Lord preserves the simple; I was brought low, and he saved me.