Compassion is a Sign of Strength, not Weakness

I had walked down the hall to offer a word of comfort to someone whose friend is now under hospice care. It’s not easy when a friend is in the last moments of this life, and this person was naturally emotional about the situation.

What struck me was how she apologized for her emotional state. Her words were something along the lines of “I’m sorry, a moment of weakness.” Really? I was a bit taken aback by her comment. Compassion is not a sign of weakness. Compassion is a sign of strength.

To show compassion and to allow yourself to get emotional means you are willing to be vulnerable. To allow the struggle of a friend to penetrate your heart so deeply that it hurts is not an easy thing to do. It takes a strong person to carry the burdens of others. It takes real strength to allow your heart to be open to the pain of a friend. It’s being Christ-like:

As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her
(Luke 7:12-13a)

Compassion is a spiritual gift – a gift given to those who can carry the burdens of others. It is given to those who can handle the emotions of such moments, not because they can contain those emotions, but because they don’t.

If you want to talk weakness then let’s talk about apathy. We show ourselves to be weak when we push aside our emotions. It is a weakness within us when we refuse to make ourselves vulnerable enough to feel the hurts of others. Apathy is a form of selfishness and a lack of visible emotion is nothing to be proud of.

I know this because too often I am weak. Too often I don’t allow the strength of God to hold me up as I enter into the hurts and pains of friends. I am too often guarded and apt to keep my emotions in check. So, when I saw the obvious compassion of one friend for another I was impressed not bothered. I was inspired to be more compassionate myself. If there is any apology needed I think it should be mine.

I thank God for people who are strong and Christ-like. They inspire me to be more than I have been. And so, to the one who inspired me yesterday, and you know who you are, thanks. I’m praying for you and your friend.

Holy high-five to you,
Mike

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