Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.2 Corinthians 1:3-4 | NIV
I’m pretty certain that the major problems facing our world today are rooted in a lack of genuine compassion for one another. The Latin roots of the word mean to literally suffer with one another. It demands more than a clinical observation of a person’s experience, instead being willing to take on their pain as best as one can.
Over the past couple of months, if you have read any of my Sunday Reflections, it has been my heartfelt desire for all of us to be rooted in compassion as we make decisions about how to live, specifically in the face of a global pandemic. My exhortations to wear masks have not been predicated on the need to comply with government mandates, but rather to contemplate the pain of others who would contract the disease from our carelessness and to take steps out of genuine compassion to protect them. Wearing a mask is not only an effective act of prevention, it’s also an expression of one’s compassion for others.
In these fractious times, outward expressions of compassion are more important than ever, because there is certainly no lack of things that divide us.
My call for compassion also extends to our African American neighbors as the ongoing upheaval in our country reflects the challenges that they have long faced. Under the terms of compassion, it’s tough to truly understand what they’ve encountered in their lives.
The most immediate connection for me has to do with my sons. Their lives, as mine, have been free of the bias and racial prejudices that their peers of color have faced. In this moment, with the nightly news as a backdrop, we have opened our home to a conversation that must last beyond this flashpoint. Only through education and conversation can we fulfill the Lord’s call for true compassion towards all of our brothers and sisters. My hope is that this is happening in households across our country and that peace may finally be found through our understanding.
So let’s move forward in compassion.
Compassion for our African-American brothers and sisters. Compassion for hard-working police officers who have publicly (and compassionately) denounced the atrocities committed by those who have brought shame to their profession, while they themselves have devoted their lives to protecting their fellow Texans and are now being attacked and insulted for the actions of dishonorable officers who have no business wearing a badge.
If your compassion leads you to peacefully protest, go for it.
If your emotions cause you to contemplate destroying other people’s property, choose compassion instead and stand with that shopkeeper.
At the end of the day, we will all be better off when we attempt to walk a mile in each other’s shoes and give one another the benefit of the doubt along with the dose of comfort given to us by the “Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles.”