The African Forum on Religion and Government (AFReG) calls on all Christians to increase our prayers as a faith community dialoguing on “African Identity, Dignity and Justice in the 21st Century.” This Tuesday, September 29, 2020, our theme is “Compassion”
Sympathy, empathy, care and considerations are all synonyms of the word compassion. The attitude behind compassion is loving kindness—which is God’s nature. We are never more like God than when we are moved with compassion for situations and for people in painful or oppressive situations. This compassion moves to action so that one claiming to have compassion is moved to do something to relieve the situation where they can.
The Bible records many instances where Jesus was moved by compassion. He always intervened. In Luke 7:13, 14, He intervenes by raising the widow’s son. In John 2:1-12 He changed water into wine at a wedding at Cana of Galilee. In Luke 8:1-3 we see that He had cured Mary Magdalene, among other women, of evil spirits and diseases and Luke 8: 43-48, He healed the women with the issue of blood. He rescued the woman who was caught in adultery from being stoned to death in John 8:1-11. Matthew 15:32 records the feeding of the crowd who had been with him a long while.
In one situation when the disciples had been sent on by Jesus to buy food from a village in Samaria, they left Him by the well of Jacob where He had an interesting discourse with a Samaritan woman. As the conversation recorded for us in John 4:4-42 informs us, this woman had reason to be ostracized by society. She had had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. No wonder she chose the hot midday to come and draw water from the community well so as not to have to endure judgement and scorn of fellow village women. Jesus chose to reveal truth about herself which opened her eyes to the Savior He was. This interaction resulted in her shamelessly becoming a witness for Jesus and Samaria was never the same again! Revival broke out as people flocked to see this man who “told her everything she ever did” and believed in Him. Jesus’ compassion, despite his tiredness, moved Him to intervene in a situation He could easily have ignored and had nothing to do. After all, the culture of the day looked down upon association with Samaritans and with women, especially of this kind. Compassion will move us to act regardless of the odds and risks against taking the appropriate God-prompted action.
God’s working in us will move us with compassion to see what we should say and do. Bob Pierce was a Baptist minister and relief worker (1914-1978) who is famous for having written this quote in his Bible—“Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God”. Disregard for human identity, dignity and justice breaks God’s heart (Jeremiah 9:24). May our hearts be so moved with compassion similarly to where we will be compelled to take the God-driven actions we must in situations all around us.
Forgive us where we have turned a blind eye to situations where people suffered under our watch or where we didn’t do all we could to alleviate pain and oppression.
Lord, open our eyes to see the situations all around us that need our intervention. Move our hearts with compassion and courage to arise with the strength You make available so that we may represent You well.