01/31/13 Compassion is Hard!

Psalm 23

A psalm of David.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.     He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,     he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths     for his name’s sake. Even though I walk     through the darkest valley,[a] I will fear no evil,     for you are with me; your rod and your staff,     they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me     in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil;     my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me     all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord     forever.

Lord, please prepare my heart as I dig into Your Word today. I surrender all that I am and all that I think and do, and receive Your will and agenda in its place. I pray that I live out of this Word today and actually experience "what you mean". Amen.

Earlier today, I found myself praying, "Lord, what is wrong with my heart? Why don't I get moved to tears when others are so completely broken over situations? Where is my compassion? Maybe I don't have compassion?  Lord, did you forget to give me compassion? If I don't have compassion, or enough compassion, how do I 'get' more? How do I learn how to do this?"

Crazy, huh.

Now, it took about 10 minutes after that prayer for me to recount the compassion God has shown me over the years in ways known and unknown; and when I really examine my life and interactions with others, I'm not stone cold and heartless. I'm moved by other situations and drawn to other people or groups of people than maybe the ones that originally sent me to pray as I did. But God did create in me a compassion. It just took remembering His for me to recognize mine.

So I came to today's blog topic with that prayer fresh on my lips and my heart, and fresh in my mind were the circumstances and conversations that led up to praying that prayer, as well as the resulting remembrance afterwards.

I've always thought of Psalm 23 as a restful passage - soothing, even. Images of meadows, slow-moving brooks, words like 'refresh', 'comfort',  ideas of calm and respite in the face of enemies - I had assumed it was these elements of speech that made this passage feel so calming.

I wonder now, though, if the calmness is because the passage gives us a place to rest and remember what compassion our amazing God has given us. In these lines, we are led through our lowest moments (darkest valleys), given a chance to think on the calling he has specifically given to us as an individual, reminded of the abundance of our lives and are even told to stop and rest -- right here, right now. The passage says He leads, guides, makes, prepares, IS with us in all of those places - His compassion knows no bounds. His compassion knows no bounds. His compassion knows no bounds.

His compassion knows no bounds....

Yep, that is why these passages are calming. They remind us of the compassion He gives us that we so definitely do not deserve, and that He has never EVER stopped giving it to us.

It is from this place of remembering His compassion that I can find my compassion for others. And I also remember that even when compassion is hard, it is what He created me to be.