Compassion

THE world has spent the weekend viewing the pictures and hearing the reports of the terrible earthquake in India. Once again there is a great outpouring of aid from around the globe for those who have lost their families and homes.

This reawakening of compassion raises a thoughtful question: Should compassion ever be allowed to go to sleep? And if not, how do we prevent ourselves from being worn out from caring, or suffering from what is referred to as ``compassion fatigue''?

Unsustained by anything else, our strength appears to fade and our love to falter when presented with the urgent needs of mankind. But if we turn to God, and lean on Him--rely upon His power--we will discover what a writer of the Bible reported years ago: ``It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness'' (Lamentations 3:22, 23).

As one reads the Gospels, one can't help realizing that Christ Jesus must have known this. He lived with an abiding consciousness of the presence and power of God at hand to comfort those that mourn, to heal those that are sick, to feed those that are hungry-- practically and spiritually. Knowing God's unfaltering power and care, Jesus never wore out, for his works were not evidence of his own might or love, but of his Father's. The press of mankind, the picture of disease and pain, did not overwhelm Jesus. Instead the ills of mankind were overwhelmed, destroyed, by his knowledge of God's infinite mercy, and the people departed healed.

As Jesus shared his knowledge of God with his disciples, they began to find that they could bring healing and comfort to others also. And the Christian of today can do the same. Key to our ability to do this is the recognition that these works do not come from some personal power, but from recognizing the ever- present, ever-active power of God, divine Love. The heart that knows and has experienced the might of God can bear witness to this power at work in human experience today.

In the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the author, Mary Baker Eddy, writes, ``The divine Mind that made man maintains His own image and likeness'' (p. 151). The pure heart that knows this can demonstrate that the power of God is available to sustain the relief worker, providing order, endurance, and intelligence. This enables one to comfort those that mourn, and to assist those who are rebuilding their lives. It turns thought to hope and renewal.

This is easier and more effective when compassion is a vital element of our day-to-day lives. Studying the Gospels and conducting our lives in accord with their teachings enable us to do this. Then demonstrating such compassion is turned from an ideal or a hope to practical experience. The events in India reawaken us to the need for such living. But a truly Christian life is obviously needed every day of the year. This is never exhausting, but always renewing.

Mrs. Eddy ended her book Retrospection and Introspection with the following lines by A. E. Hamilton:

Ask God to give thee skill

In comfort's art:

That thou may'st consecrated be

And set apart

Unto a life of sympathy.

For heavy is the weight of ill

In every heart;

And comforters are needed much

Of Christlike touch.

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