I was reading a devotional today, and God really stirred up my heart as I was reading. It was about why we, especially here in North America with our good economy, are so quick to change the channel when we see starving children, or quick to put out of our minds something horrible that is happening in our world. I’m not going to write about a guilt provoking piece about how we should be helping, but rather, something I have noticed that is being taught in our culture and in our churches today- not limited to but especially to woman.
I have often heard in the church that to display sadness on any level is to not be living with “the joy of the Lord”. Or the heresy that goes something like “Rid your life of anything or anyone who is negative or brings you, as in your happiness, down”. I acknowledge that as Christians, we have A LOT to be joyful about, so why not be joyful? It feels better to be happy, so why would we want to be brought down by other people’s problems? But the bible teaches otherwise for certain situations. We are instructed in Romans 12:15 to “mourn with those who mourn” (also to “rejoice with those who rejoice”). Often in the bible it talks about Jesus’ heart breaking when He saw the hungry, the sick, the emotionally downtrodden, and the spiritually lost and lonely people (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, Luke 7:13, John 6:35 are all examples). Paul instructs us to be “Christlike” (1 Corinthians 11:1). If we are to be like Christ in our actions and attitudes, why wouldn’t our hearts break for those in desperate situations? And if our hearts aren’t breaking for those people, why aren’t we asking the Lord to break our hearts for what breaks his heart? By our heart breaking and mourning over these situations, God is able to stir our hearts to take action. If we are going around living in our own little world, happy with everything that is going on for us, but then choose to ignore the perils and struggles of other people, other children of God even, how are we being like Christ? We often even chalk up another person’s struggles to existing sin in their life without fully knowing that (which is another topic entirely)! Jesus didn’t just go about his life rejoicing in what God had done for him, and then mostly ignored others’ situations around him! Yes, he did rejoice (a lot), but His heart also broke for those around him. He mourned for them. This brokenness stirred him to compassion and to action.
To address women specifically- God gave us a tender, compassionate heart for a purpose. We often view that as a downfall. Our culture teaches us that we need to be strong, independent and not emotional. In actuality, God made us this way for a very noble purpose. He gave us that ability to feel deeply, so that we could show compassion for people in need and move others to want to do the same. We should allow ourselves to feel deeply for another person. To mourn when they mourn, and rejoice when they rejoice. Life isn’t about striving to be happy and put together all the time. If that were the case, Jesus wouldn’t have done it right.
Also, giving your cares about others to God does not mean letting him have them and forgetting all about it. We are the hands and feet of Christ, and we cannot be truly effective unless our hearts our where God’s heart is. If His is breaking, ours should be breaking too. Where possible we should be putting our compassion to action, and if physical action is not possible (and even if it is) we should be lifting up people in prayer. We can’t change a situation, and God doesn’t ask us to. That is his job. But he has called us to love one another, and to care for the needs of others (even emotional needs).
I am definitely guilty of flipping the channel, or ignoring another person’s problems because I would rather just be happy. I don’t want to sit in my box and do that anymore. I want my heart to break for what breaks God’s. I want to be compassionate to those around me, no matter if it makes me sad for a time or not. How about you?
Lord, help me to have compassion for those around me. Whether it is a physical need or an emotional need, I want to be your hands and feet. Help me to know when to jump to action. Break my heart for what is breaking yours. Give me your strength to show your love to others around me who are hurting or in distress. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Here is a good worship song that goes along with this thought: