Does Compassion Move Us?

Determined to read my Bible, I sit on the couch and breath a prayer while my two-year-old son plays with his matchbox cars.

“Lord, help me focus on Your Word. Teach me to be more Christlike.”

Aware that my child can interrupt me at any second, I scan Matthew 15:29-31. Tons of people came to Jesus,  bringing the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mutes…all kinds of needy people . . . and threw them at Jesus’ feet to see what He would do.

He healed them. 

Then, Jesus noticed the people were hungry. He took seven loaves of bread, a few fish, and fed four thousand . . . .

Plop!

My son grins as he parks his cars on top of Matthew. I point to the coffee table. “Drive your cars there so Mommy can read.”

He looks at the coffee table, noting his blue plastic cup. He lifts it to his lips. The cup is empty. He hands it to me. 

“Are you thirsty?”

He nods. 

I set my open Bible (now a parking lot) on the coffee table, and groan as I walk to the kitchen. 

“Sorry, Lord, duty calls.”

Irritation flows through me as I fill my son’s cup with cool water. 

I don’t need to read Scripture to realize I’m impatient and far from Christlike. My child has made it apparent without saying a word. 

I return to the couch and lift my son on my lap. He leans against my shoulder while he sips water. But my mind is fixed on those people who’d traveled to see Jesus.

I picture them as curious folks who wanted to meet this man who did the impossible with just a word, a touch. Cautious folks, hesitant to intrude on Jesus. Quietly waiting their turn. 

But what if—instead of being calm and orderly—the people were a noisy, dirty, smelly, diseased, ragtag sea of humanity clamoring for Jesus’ attention?

Matthew says the people were hungry which means they were probably hangry. Surely there were crying babies and fussy toddlers in that hangry crowd as their family pressed forward—elbowing, squeezing, shoving, stepping on people’s toes. Fearful Jesus would leave before they received help.

How could Jesus be so patient? How could He keep on giving?

And yet, were those desperate people any different than today’s refugees who flee their homes to escape violence and persecution. The images of parents carrying their children to safety are gut-wrenching. I’m filled with compassion but, unlike Christ, I’m seldom moved to act on their behalf.

(Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Jesus embodied compassion. Instead of seeing a crowd, He saw individuals and His empathetic heart suffered to see their pain. 

His gut-wrenching compassion moved Him. 

To heal bodies. 

Fill empty stomachs.

Redeem souls.

 Change lives.

I run my fingers through my son’s blond curls, grateful that we’re healthy, safe, and fed. Even so, I still need Jesus. 

I’m moved to tears because I know that my compassion for others has limits. Only Christ’s love flowing through me can move me to step out of my comfort zone and act.

And yet, even when I’m impatient by the smallest interruptions, His compassion moves Him to act.

Even in this . . . harried mom’s heart. 

Share how compassion moved you to act on someone’s behalf.

Photo of Cars: Jennifer Wrede

Blog: Collaborative work: Jennifer Wrede, Karen Foster

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.