“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” Ephesians 4:32

 

When I think of how blessed we are to be vacationing in this beautiful place, I savor the feeling of being fortunate enough to be here to enjoy a piece of the world that is new to me, and I can enjoy this place comfortably. In the feeling of thankfulness for my fortunes, I also dig into what it would feel like to be in this place under other circumstances – how would I feel as a refugee here? I would be completely lost. My Greek is horrendous for starters. I wouldn’t know how to navigate, I would feel scared, and I would be searching for someone to show compassion and grace to help me. I imagine the thousands of refugees inundating this island, looking for hope, and peace …. Looking for compassion, and mercy as they navigate somewhere new as they search for safety and a better life. 

 

I think of the ramifications of living in terror, living in a state of fight or flight until safety is found…hearts full of hope, and minds full of anxiety. I also think of what it would feel like to be a local and watch your homeland become flooded with strangers needing aid. Both parties I think share commonalities in feelings of anxiety, both in a state of shock … both parties wondering “How will I get through this?”

 

Compassion involves feeling another person’s pain and wanting to take steps to help relieve their suffering. The word is derived from Latin and means “to suffer together.” Compassion involves allowing ourselves to be moved by suffering and then acting in some way to help alleviate and prevent it from happening further.

 

Compassion in Scripture:

The Compassion of Jesus

“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:35–38, emphasis added throughout).

 

Jesus Heals a Leper:

“Now a leper came to Him, imploring Him, kneeling down to Him and saying to Him, ‘If You are willing, You can make me clean.’ “Then Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out His hand and touched him, and said to him, ‘I am willing; be cleansed.’ As soon as He had spoken, immediately the leprosy left him, and he was cleansed” (Mark 1:40–42).

There are many examples of compassion found in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) but the Old Testament holds many compassionate stories/characters as well. I think there is compassion found in the story of Joseph. He went from being sold into slavery by his brothers to becoming second in command in Egypt. When famine took over the land, his brothers went to Egypt to buy food. Joseph could have cast them out, could have had them killed … instead, he held compassion. I think he was a little snarky about it, but who am I to judge? 

 

Ruth was full of compassion. Ruth loved her mother-in-law, Naomi, and had compassion for her. Naomi’s husband and sons had died. In an act of selfless compassion and empathy, Ruth traveled with Naomi back to Bethlehem and settled there with her. Do you love your in-laws that much?

 

The compassion we show to others is vital in making the world go around harmoniously…. I also believe that self-compassion is something we all could work on as well. The more in tune we are with ourselves, the more present we can be with others. Self-compassion is turning compassion inward. It means we give ourselves support and encouragement rather than being cold or judgmental when challenges and difficulties arise in our lives. We talk to ourselves and treat ourselves as we would to our best friends. Research indicates that self-compassion is

one of the most powerful sources of coping and resilience we have available. My mother would have turned 60 years old today. She lost her battle with mental illness seven years ago and losing her the way I did … was the biggest lesson in compassion and self-compassion I’ve had to date.

 

Prayer:

Lord thank you for your compassion. Thank you for loving me and guiding me – even on the days I am most unlovable. Thank you for the opportunities that have led me to this moment in time. Bless our remaining time here in Lesvos. Bless our gracious and compassionate hosts. Help me to extend love and grace to those around me. Amen

 


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