Thursday 9/22/2016 6:29 AM
The theme of my devotions this week is compassion for others. To check to see how compassionate I am, one of the readings in my devotional material suggested I ask these questions: Do I sense the presence of the suffering Christ in others? Do I share their pain? Am I aware of their vulnerability? Do I know that the need for mercy is often hidden under a mask of self-sufficiency, coldness, and indifference? While my answer to these questions varies with time and with different individuals, overall I would say that my compassion meter has become more sensitive in the last several years. My biggest fault in this regard is a lack of action, not a lack of feeling.
In her book The Cup of Our Life, Joyce Rupp notes some of the common characteristics she has observed in compassionate people. She writes, “They often have significant suffering or painful life events of their own, a generous heart, a non-blaming and non-judging mind, a passionate spirit, a willingness to sacrifice their life, a keen empathy, and a love that embraces the oneness of all creation.” When I consider my life and my way of living I feel as if some of those characteristics have grown in me while others are woefully absent. I long to be a more compassionate person instead of a cynical person. I have a long way to go.
Compassion is a quality that seems to be in short supply in the United States today. Our stress on the rights of the individual as a nation allows for a lot of individual freedom, which we regularly celebrate, but it comes with a steep price, a lack of empathy and compassion for others. Rupp writes, “Compassionate people often inspire others to be compassionate.” I want to be that kind of person.