A Heart of Compassion
A few weeks ago, while transferring prayer requests from my current prayer diary into a new one, I came across several interesting diary entries. One of them grabbed me. ‘Lord, please create in me a heart of compassion.’ The date was 2.9.05. That was over 8 years ago. I stopped. I read it again. I reflected.
How has God answered that prayer these past 8 years? I still have a long way to go in developing a heart of compassion; a heart like He’d want me to possess. But I believe God has been answering that prayer little by little - mostly in ways I didn’t envisage. Beware how you pray. God answers.
When I pray for more patience – He doesn’t hand it to me on a silver platter. No. He usually makes me work for it. God might answer by sending frequent situations where patience is required. Not what I had in mind! I’d rather He fill me with bucket-loads of patience in an instant. Don’t you?
Of course, there are times that God answers prayers quickly and in supernatural ways. I have seen it occur in my own life – many times over. He is God. He can do anything. Yes. But then, more often than not – the way God has answered my prayers for character growth has been very different to what I’ve expected. He has often used varying tough, thorny situations in my life to teach me what compassion is all about.
In 1993 – that’s 20 years ago - I began praying for the Fruit of the Spirit in my life. And yes, He has been blessing me since - creating that fruit through His Holy Spirit – but oh – it has taken its time. He has led me along many bumpy pathways and numerous dirt roads. Hard times, difficult people, sorrow, heartache, tears, pain – these are often the stuff that His answers for character growth came through.
There was this time in my life when I was struggling. I found it hard to get through each day without shedding sad tears in His presence. I went to work one morning in my role as CareLink volunteer – feeling terribly inadequate. Weak and helpless. Vulnerable. How could I help someone else if I felt so inadequate?
That day, a lady in great distress walked in. She’d been to prison. As she shared her story, her pain became my own. A heart of compassion? Yes, it was possible for me empathise with her. I’d been in a hard place myself. Very different to her situation – but then pain is pain. Suffering is suffering. He or she who has suffered can empathise with others who suffer. It’s as simple as that.
And so it came very naturally for me to weep with her, to feel her pain, to put myself in her shoes. My tears flowed along with hers. I believe I ministered to her best that day by weeping with her.
Do you wonder what it would be like to have an easy carefree life with no worries, no troubles, no financial concerns, no physical ailments, no relationship difficulties? The truth is that if we live in this world, trouble will be very much a part of our lives. There is no way of escape. But the bigger and brighter truth is that as children of God, we can ask God to use all of it for good. To use them as building blocks to build our characters. To use them to understand others. To use them to reach out to God Himself.
Would you like to develop a heart of compassion? I do. Let me warn you– God will not knock on your door and replace your heart with a brand new beautiful heart. My guess is that He will use different situations in your life for good, the way He did in mine. He chiselled away the colder parts of my heart and replaced them with warmth and concern. He softened it in the rough, tough places. Through heartache and tears, he made it closer to His own heart.
Would I erase all of the tough times? The truth is that experiencing those seasons has made me the person I am today. Thank you Lord – not just for bringing me through. But also for the knowledge that you will use every season to make me the woman you created me to be.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers (and sisters) when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2, 3