A bleeding heart
My heart and life was overwhelmed and I was ultimately tired of explaining my plight to another Christian who would just quote a well-known scripture and tell me what sounded right. I had just accepted that no one would understand me and that this dark cloud looming over my head would soon devour me whole. Yes, I am Christian, and I was trusting God to work this particular situation out, but I must admit that my faith wavered during this time.
It was a particularly tough position. It was not that I did not have the skills or creativity to do it, but inherent to that situation was a dishonourable system and actors that pushed and tugged at me each day while playing their superior roles. I had prayed, fasted and opened up to some church friends and colleagues about how overburdened my soul had felt. The situation had even caused me physical and mental affliction. It seemed that the only common thing we practiced as Christians was to provide theology when anyone was hurting. I was mostly advised to pray and trust God, maybe fast, or when they tired of the ongoing reality, simply tough-out the situation. I felt like they maybe couldn’t understand the situation and so just minimised my painwith the theological cover.
I remember on one of my hardest days I wondered if anyone would have missed me if I were to die that very day.I then realised I had truly hit rock bottom. It was at that juncture that God taught me true compassion.
Hiding in my corner, I openedup to my new friend who also happened to attend my church. She invited me to pray and fast with her on Wednesdays, but she did not stop there, she actually listened and grieved the trauma of the situation with me. Neve once did she tell me to suck it up or glaze over my pain because it was too much for her to comprehend. Even though she mentioned scripturelike the others, she didn’t just leave it there. She took it further to that empathetic place of true compassion. After keenly listening, she mentioned how hard that must have been for me and that even if she didn’t understand, God did and that he was hurting because I was hurting. That concept was new to me, but in essence, she taught me how to mourn with fellow Christians…She mourned with me.
Eventually I wrote a letter to members of a ministry I was servingin, requesting prayers and one response was particularly memorable. As the elder and I sat to talk about my letter, he opened with “I am hearing your heart’s cry.” Just hearing that and realising that they had both empathised with me, I realised that I already felt understood and my heart, if only one piece, could process the theology that inevitably would provide assurance. My heart was open to hear and heal. I had not felt dismissed and theologize anymore, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep… (Romans Chapter 12 verse 15 NKJV).
Never take that word lightly.
The Mary and Martha effect
What I have been learning about how we relate to hurting as Christians is that we tend to lead with theology. Yes, the word of God is true, infallible and inerrant and because of this many of us just restate its principles when we see a fellow Christian in pain. It is not that what is said holds no truth, but at that moment we feel more like Martha than Mary when Jesus came to raise Lazarus. Recalling that story, Martha received theology as she led with theology, but Mary was met with empathy as she wept.
Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” … (Saint John 11 verse 33 – 36 NKJV). This passage demonstrates the importance of both, but we see the responsethat truly emphasized not only Jesus’ pain but how he mourned with Mary. Jesus Christ is the greatest example of someone with true compassion.
There is a time for Martha-ingbut remember how important your Mary-like response is when someone is hurting.If we fail to feel and show compassion for each other, we will have acted not differently from the law rather than with love.
Check your response
The Bible is filled with many verses about comfort when we are hurting,but do remember that the heart is an important part of the process. Don’t be too quick to quote scriptures without first allowing your fellow brethren to say how they feel. God cares about our feelings too…
As a father has compassionon his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. (Psalm Chapter 103 verse 13KJV);
The Lord is gracious and righteous; our god is full of compassion (Psalm chapter 119 verse 77);
Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him (Isaiah chapter 30 verse 18)… and I could go on and on.
I am happy to say that my situation changed, and because of the compassion that was bestowed on me during that season, I was taught to mourn with others like Jesus.
In this Christian life we must face pain and we will hurt, but the compassionate response of your brethren is golden. Compassion is the true mark of Christian character!
Kimberley Salmon from Jamaica West Indies is a praise and worship leader who remains passionate about touching hearts through singing and writing as she thrives to become a published author of Christian women’s fiction. She loves the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is grateful for God’s saving grace which continues to transform her life. As a senior Press Service International Columnist, she is elated that she can now share her journey with God with the world.