Compassion Over Fear

Today, our sermon at Grace Church was about compassion. It struck a chord with me that rung so loud it brought clarity on some strong feelings I have had during this season of slowly losing our Zekey.

Very much, most of the time (I’m allowed to make up my own phrases), I’m extremely understanding when people do not know what to do or say to us. Here are ways that may keep you at a distance.

You don’t really ‘get’ what we are going through. (Thank God for that, right?)

You don’t want to say the wrong thing. (Of course, I understand completely.)

You’re afraid getting too close may cause your heart to hurt right along with ours. (Who wants to ask for a hurting heart?)

If you accept this struggle we go through, even a little and help carry us through it, maybe God would feel you could handle this challenge, too? (“No, God. I couldn’t…don’t you dare.”)

I’ve felt these things before about other people who struggle in the very same ways we are now. Losing a child to illness (whether physically or mentally or both) is something I couldn’t have borne the thought of, so I really didn’t get too close to those suffering as we are now. I’m ashamed of that but what I really want you to know is that I understand these feelings you may have. I really do.

But then there are people who push through those fears. They enter into our life, ugly suffering and all. They show us compassion.


Compassion says:

“I can’t pretend to know what you’re going through but here, let me pray with you the best way I know how.”

“Let me encourage and remind you of just how good our God is.”    

“Let me pray for mercy, peace, perseverance and for God to continue to use you to do big things for His kingdom.” 

Today at church, I couldn’t stand and sing during one of the songs. I could only sit down and cry during music worship and that was allowed and accepted at my church- even encouraged. A woman came over and sat with me, prayed with me and cried with me. This is an example of compassion.

“How is Zekey today? How are the other kids doing?”

When people show they care about how we are doing and are even okay if the answer is messy. Something that makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. It’s okay to look in my eyes with sorrow and then tell me you’re praying, even give me a hug. A man from church who doesn’t know me did this very thing. That’s compassion.

“Can I help?”

“Are you sleeping at all?” My standards of sleep have changed a little, so even ‘yes’ means “I’m sleeping as if I have a teething toddler.” That’s okay- I’m getting extra snuggles with Zekey.

Compassion does:

Holds you while you cry and even cries with you.

Sends a letter in the mail to encourage and write out their prayer. Sometimes even gets the kids gifts ‘just because’.

Makes us a meal and stays awhile to see what my day looks like- maybe even suggests a way to help.

Encourages me to still be ‘me’ and not just ‘the women who has a son that is dying.’

Takes time to go out and get coffee- time to do life, outside of my beautiful chaos.

Brings coffee and does life with me inside my beautiful chaos.

Looks at me as a friend/woman/sister who is stable enough to be a good friend . A listening ear and hopefully, even able to breathe life and encouragement to you. (I’m suffering and I’m weak but God still pulls through and speaks through me.)

Taking calls, many of them, to help me figure out a rigorous diet to ‘heal’ my son…for months.

Travels hours away from their own busy life to spend life in mine. (Weather permitting…beautiful Ohio winters.)

Compassion doesn’t look the other way.

I’ve experienced all of these things and more. Those who have showed us compassion have been used by God himself to open my eyes to the needs and sufferings of others. To all of you, thank you.

I am fully aware that I could write this same post using other examples of compassion. I mean, who draws attention to themselves like this? It’s socially unacceptable. Isn’t it kind of rude to write so close to home where I may make you feel uncomfortable or guilty?

I chose to go the difficult route without the intentions to make you feel guilty. If you read thinking I’m asking for attention, or I’m out to force you to serve me, you don’t know me or my heart. I’m not writing this so that I will be better taken care of by those of you who read this.

I’m writing this because our fear and lame excuses are getting in the way of being compassionate towards others.

Our fears of going on a mission trip because we may see just how good we have it or even worse, just how bad they have it all while embodying a joy we cannot fathom.

Our fears to do life with those who have hurting, aching hearts only to add pain in our, what seem to be, lives of little struggle.

Our fears of dealing with those who aren’t going to help us get to the top, because you know, people who are suffering are extra weight…they’re going to pull you away from the big dreams you have. I promise you that.

They will not build your ministry, they’ll take you away from it. Their needs 9they wouldn’t dare wish upon anyone else0 are going to add to your list of things to do, if even a little.

The lives of those who suffer may bring on a guilt that they do not intend. Their sufferings may expose our petty, #firstworldproblems we share on social media daily.

Those who suffer are the ones who need the most compassion but they will not demand it. They’re too busy trying to stay afloat. They don’t want to bother you.

Being compassionate sometimes looks like dropping everything you have going on to help someone in need, going out of your way to do life with them, to serve them, to say that their suffering isn’t too much for us to enter into.

Being compassionate is kneeling down in mud when your life isn’t demanding it and embracing their suffering, too.

I am not writing to you, but to us. I’m suffering, yes, but I once had it pretty good and had no clue of the depth of the sufferings of those near and far. Shamefully I admit,  I didn’t want to- I was full of fear.

I am writing to you to grab your attention as someone who is in the thick of suffering. We need to stop looking around in your own houses and start looking in the houses of those in our communities or maybe even to expand our communities to include those who do not have it so good.

I challenge you, me, all of us to consider what their needs are. I cannot promise a trophy or even a ‘good job’ for living out compassion but you’ll get a heart that beats more closely with your Savior’s, and that’s what we’re really here for, isn’t it?”

Compassion: Sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others and entering into it.


  • Reply February 12, 2014

    Rita Arvay

    You know, Breena, you hit the nail right on the head! I have said and done some of the same things you listed. I, too, am not happy with the way I have handled some things in the past. I’ve tried to do better. Each person or family that needs our COMPASSION is unique. It will always stir up something uncomfortable in us. That’s okay. That is how God “grows” us. I am encouraged by this post to step up to the plate in more circumstances that are placed in front of me; and do better with those already in my midst.

  • […] For those of you who haven’t turned your back just because you haven’t experienced this or because it’s been too much tragedy to watch and listen too, you are unique and have been used by God in my life and others who have similar stories. You have said you’ll keep praying and walking with us even though you haven’t experience such loss. You are being used by God and I’m thankful for you. I know the other families you minister to are as well.  You can imagine me standing up and clapping. What a gift you have and what a blessing to us. You.are.compassionate.  […]

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