the cost of compassion

I can’t help it.

I think too much.  I wonder too often.  I work too hard to make sense of things.

And the thing that is puzzling me right now is why people pull away from those experiencing deep and lasting pain.

Like the pain of burying a child.  Or the burden of chronic physical disability.  Or the unceasing struggle of overcoming addiction.

I think I’ve hit on a few possibilities:

  • There is no end in sight.  None of these scenarios offer a tidy final chapter that wraps loose ends into a comfortable narrative.
  • It challenges what we believe about God.  It’s one thing to consider the problem of pain and suffering in the world from a theoretical perspective and quite another to experience it in real time.
  • Our days are too full of “busy work” to leave room for real ministry. Overscheduled and frazzled,  we don’t have the emotional, physical or psychological energy required to stand with someone while they battle.

So we trade pity for compassion.

Pity says, “I’m sorry for you.  Let me do something for you that makes me feel better.”

We offer platitudes and prayers from afar as a substitute for presence and personal interaction.

And when our attention is turned elsewhere, we drift away–abandoning the broken to sit alone with their pain.

Most of us don’t mean to do it–we just move on, leaving the limping behind.

But the cold shoulder wounds as much as hurtful words. Acknowledgement is as great a blessing as an extended hand.

Compassion says, “I see your pain.  I hurt with you.  Let me stay with you until you feel better.  And if you never feel better, I’ll still be here.”

Compassion requires conscious commitment to push back against our tendency to forget those who live with things they cannot change and will never forget.

God Himself stepped into His creation to feel the pain of brokenness, to bear the price of sin and to open a Way for restoration and redemption.

Jesus came to make the Father known.

There is no substitute for walking with the wounded.  It is costly, it is painful, it is hard.

But I would argue that when we do, we are most like our Savior.


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

14 thoughts on “the cost of compassion”

  1. I always appreciate your re-posts Melanie, those you wrote before I joined the club/before I found you blog.
    Bless you for your “thinking too much, wondering too often and working too hard to make sense of things.” ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Let me do something for you that makes me feel better.” This made me laugh. It shouldn’t because I have been guilty of the same non-helpfulness. But laugh, I did.

    “There is no substitute for walking with the wounded. It is costly, it is painful, it is hard. But I would argue that when we do, we are most like our Savior.” This is convicting. I have often come up short in this department, even though I am now one of the wounded and should know better. It used to be laziness; right now it is weariness, but I think it is very easy to use that as an excuse. Your writing is beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Kim,

      Perhaps you will appreciate this then-that phrase “Let me do something for you that makes me feel better” was already part of our family’s vocabulary before Dom ran ahead to heaven. We were in leadership in several different groups at different times and we developed that to describe the folks who would manage to never actually volunteer for or do the things that needed done but would make up some random thing that eased their conscience but which added no real value to the task. So we use it and laugh all the time!

      Thank you for the kind words. I’ve written since I could hold a pencil-making a “book” in second grade. But it’s only now, after losing a child, that I feel like I’m finding my true voice. I suppose it is a gift of God, but it is a costly one. Blessings, sister! You always encourage me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I guess this phenomenon is universal. It is amazing how much energy one can spend trying to get out of volunteering.

        Yes, as a grieving parent and wanna be writer, I finally have irrefutable credibility if not exceptional giftedness. Blessings to you as well. So thankful to have found you.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I so appreciate your insight. Thank you for sharing your gift to ‘ blog’, to write what I wish I could. Your words help me to heal as my mind, heart, and soul are trying to understand life as it is now. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for the encouragment.
      I pray that grace and mercy overwhelm you and that God strengthens you for each new day. It is a hard journey, but one we can complete faithfully as we lean on God and His promises in Christ.


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