Urgent needs in so many parts of the world today continue to touch hearts, bringing calls for ever-greater sensitivity and caring to help meet those needs quickly and thoroughly. They’ve led me to think more deeply about the kind of caring that goes beyond emotion and how I can express it better.
Some questions that come to me are, How am I actually seeing these situations? Am I defining people simply as victims in pain, and sympathizing with them? During times of struggle, I’ve appreciated the intent of those who sympathized. But I’ve found myself even more grateful for those who encouraged me to rise above the challenge because they saw in me something of the spiritual strength we all have, even at a time I struggled to feel it myself.
So when I’m helping others, I strive to do it from that kind of deeper basis – supporting them as victors rather than as victims by seeing them walking in the healing light of God, as the spiritual image and likeness of God.
Each of us can practice this kind of caring that’s more powerful than sympathizing with a problem. We can, instead, wholeheartedly embrace this idea of one another as being God’s creation, reflecting the joy, peace, and strength of the Divine. Then we discover how to assure each other of God’s abundant love and unfailing care – in every situation. This is spiritually grounded compassion, which lifts thought toward healing resolutions.
We see this compassion illustrated in the Bible in a parable told by Jesus (see Luke 10:30-35). A Samaritan traveler’s response to a man who had been beaten, robbed, and left to die went beyond feeling sorry for him. He “had compassion” on him. This inspired what the Samaritan did next: He “went to him, and bound up his wounds” and made sure he was taken care of.
Clearly, the wounds suffered in such an attack weren’t just physical; they were mental, as well. They cried out for the active healing touch of divine Love, or God, right there on the roadside. The Samaritan expressed a Christlike compassion, which uplifts, restores, and strengthens in a way that simply acknowledging someone’s pain cannot do. It inspires and energizes both the caregiver and the one needing help.
Prayer to understand Love’s healing touch enables us to know the comfort and assurance of God’s infinite grace, and to feel and follow God’s guidance. I’ve found this is a foundation for helping myself and others find tangible solutions to problems, bringing to light the practicality of God’s care.
Several years ago, this approach helped me support a friend in a devastating situation: Soon after her husband passed on, she discovered that owing to wrongdoing by some employees, her family-owned company was over $1 million in debt. She was left with not only grief about losing her husband, but a mountain of indebtedness and the sorrow of having been lied to by people she had trusted.
In praying with my friend each day, I recalled how Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, describes the comforting, compassionate nature of God, divine Love. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” she illuminates a verse from Psalm 23 in the Bible this way: “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for [Love] is with me; [Love’s] rod and [Love’s] staff they comfort me” (p. 578).
This became foundational in our prayers together as my friend navigated the steps needed to avoid losing everything. Divine Love’s comfort and care are never out of reach, even during the most trying times, because as God’s spiritual image, we can never truly be separated from our divine source. This idea gave my friend strength and empowered me to encourage and help her, rather than simply pitying.
Over the course of two and a half years, relying on God’s guidance daily, my friend repaid the entire debt, returned the business to profitability, and avoided personal bankruptcy. She said to me recently, “I knew that staying certain of God’s hand in solving all of this would bring resolution.”
To me, this experience illustrates how Christly compassion works on a much deeper level than mere human pity: It empowers us to understand everyone’s unique spiritual being, our unbroken spiritual identity. It goes beyond just walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. It means realizing that we all are cared for by our divine Parent, able to feel and experience God’s healing, restoring love, and letting that inspire the way we help and care for others.