We must never minimize the suffering of another.
Scripture’s mandate to us is, “Weep with them that weep.”
– Billy Graham
While traveling with a large crowd through the region of Galilee, Jesus encountered a funeral procession when entering the city of Nain. The picture Luke gives us is that of two large groups meeting face to face right outside the city gate. One group was led by Jesus. The other group was led by a grieving widow who had just lost her only son.
The group led by Jesus would have been characterized by contentment, if not joy. The group led by the widow would have been characterized by sorrow and despair. In the gospels, when Jesus comes across hurting people, compassion is His most frequent response. With this grieving widow, it’s no different. When the two crowds collide, Jesus' heart goes out to her.
In this interaction, we observe that compassion has three elements. First, compassion sees. Luke makes a point to say that Jesus saw this woman (v13). Next, compassion feels. Jesus allows Himself to be affected by this woman's emotions. A compassionate heart is willing to take on the pain of another and not remain at a safe distance. Lastly, compassion fully aroused leads to action.
In this story, Jesus’ actions are two-fold. First, He offers words of comfort and empathy, “Don’t cry!” Second, Jesus steps in and reverses her sorrow by bringing her son back to life. Jesus fully sees this woman. He deeply feels her pain. And then, powerfully acts on her behalf.
We may not have the power to bring someone back from the dead, but we do have the capacity to see, feel, and act. Compassion is risky because it means losing control. When entering into someone else’s sorrow, it can cost us our safety and comfort. But it also can lead to participating in God’s restoration in their life.
Who in your life needs compassion? Are you willing to see, feel, and act? By stepping into their sorrow, you may be the catalyst to a restored future.
1. Has there been a time when you have been on the receiving end of compassion? How did that impact you?
2. What prevents you from seeing people who are in need?
3. Take a few moments to identify someone you know who’s going through a hard time. List a few ways you might be able to help them.
4. Spend a few moments praying for that individual.