What Does Compassion Look Like?
Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies.
— Nehemiah 9:28
As pictures of the latest disaster pop up in our Facebook feeds our hearts are pricked . . . for about as long as it takes for us to hit the sad face emoji then hurriedly scroll to a less depressing post.
Compassion is defined as the act of doing something to alleviate another’s suffering. Doing something, other than possibly sharing the post, rarely crosses our mind. Has social media stolen our willingness to truly hear another’s problems, empathize with their pain and do what we can to alleviate their suffering? Maybe. Or perhaps we just don’t remember what true compassion looks like.
Tempting as it is to blame the advent of a 24-hour news cycle for our hardened hearts, mankind has always been able convince themselves that there’s nothing they can do. Throughout history we’ve used this rationale to allow the brutalization, enslavement and disenfranchisement of those without power.
Nehemiah refused to succumb to the thinking of his day—that the Israelites were suffering the consequences their rebellion deserved. This man of rare compassion wept at the news of the Israelites’ hardship, empathized with their struggle and went to the conquering king (at great personal risk) to ask if he could help the Israelites rebuild. Nehemiah acted like one person could make a difference.
This story of compassion is an insightful peek into the character of God. In God’s compassion, He heard our cries. He felt our pain. He reached out, rescued us and is always willing to help us rebuild.
What does compassion look like? God.
Today’s One Thing
Practice active compassion. Seek out one person in need and do something to alleviate even a portion of that person’s suffering.