Compassion

(Not) Business as Usual

Blog_EmptyPark_PikrepoMy family has gone on more walks lately than I can recall in any springtime past. We’re blessed to live in an area with multiple locations for scenic hikes, so we’ve taken much advantage of one of the few things still allowed during shelter-in-place: outdoor exercise. This is one thing I hope doesn’t change when all this passes over.

Along our walks, we’ve seen many beautiful and interesting things. But I will say there is one thing we’ve seen that seems especially unusual. Empty playgrounds.

While the sight of a slide and some swings usually elicits a gasp of excitement from my children, there is a strange stillness when we pass by equipment once adorned with laughing children. It’s somber, almost. Haunting.

I know my kids are eager for things to go back to normal when it comes to playgrounds. And many others are yearning for business-as-usual in other areas as well. Family gatherings. Visits with friends. Work. School. Shopping. Entertainment. Sports.

As much as I long for some normalcy, there are some things I hope never return to the way they were before the lock-down. I hope my family continues to treasure our precious time together. I hope we still enjoy long walks outdoors. And I hope we remain in this state of prioritizing the valuable over the urgent.

On a more serious level, there are other things I hope never go back to business-as-usual. Prior to this season of quarantine, the practice of human trafficking was flourishing on soil across the globe. This $150 billion per year, 40 million victim industry prospered without hindrance on every continent.

Only time will tell how much this shut-down has slowed the progress of this horrific evil. We may never know how many abductions have been prevented with children and youth required to remain safely inside. And with the sports industry on halt, the trafficking-driven after-sporting events are left without the hundreds of thousands they once magnetized.

My prayer is that this current crisis will come as an urgent wake-up call to those who have funded this industry with selfish appetites, and that they would turn from their victimizing ways. My hope is that those who have been victimized will find their way to lasting freedom, and that those who are laboring behind the scenes to bring such freedom will prosper in the cause of justice. And my desire is that the horrific practice of modern slavery will not continue business-as-usual.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

Blood-red Compassion

Through our scars we bleed blood-red compassion that brings others to know the healing that is found in Christ.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Tree, Red, Leaves, Nature, Branch – Free Image on …

The Purpose of Scars

My son is very proud of his scars. He loves to share the stories of how they came to be, giving play-by-play accounts of how he got that scrape on his knee or the bump on his elbow. In vivid detail, he’ll describe exactly where he was on the playground, what he was doing, and how he tripped and fell or whatever other catastrophe transpired. If we’re lucky, we might get a re-enactment of the event, minus a repeat injury.

As much as he loves elaborating upon stories of his own calamities, he equally enjoys sharing how his friends got their ouchies. It’s not that he revels in their pain, but that he empathizes. When a friend gets hurt, he understands. He’s been there.

At times, I’ve seen him put his arms around the shoulder of a crying friend, sharing one of his many stories of just why he can relate to their pain.

Imagine a world void of such compassion. It’s terrible enough to suffer. And yet, to suffer alone?

Some churches falsely teach that we’ll never suffer. “Christ suffered in our place, on the cross,” they reason. “And by his wounds we are healed. Therefore, we’ll never be wounded.”

Yes, by his wounds we are healed. But have we forgotten that we also are called to be like Christ?

If he suffered, how are we to presume that we will live a life free of suffering? And if we are healed through his suffering, shall we not bring healing to others through our own suffering?

I’m not saying that we can bring the supernatural, all-consuming healing that only our Savior can bring. But I believe that through our scars we bleed blood-red compassion that brings others to know the healing that is found in Christ.

I’ve found that those who adhere to the false prosperity gospel tend to be most impoverished of compassion, judging and condemning those who endure any amount of suffering.

But I’ve also found that those of us who bear scars love on deeper levels than those who have not endured the fires of affliction.

We’re each granted our own share of battles that when we emerge victorious we might also battle on behalf of others. Financial lack frees us to empathize with those in poverty. Barrenness enables us to understand loss. Physical pain helps us to relate to those enduring far worse.

Given the choice, the selfish part of me would choose a more comfortable path. But I know there are greater outcomes when I endure the furnace of affliction with grace, allowing God to birth in me a deeper compassion through the fire.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Leaves, Autumn, Colorful, Clamp – Free Image on …

Questions and Answers

Snodonia Mines Area from Google Images, Wikipediawhy the hunger and the thirst,
why the war and death and grief?
why the sickness with no cure
and the pain with no relief?

why the child without a home
and the outcast with no friend?
why the family without hope
and the suffering without end?

why the questions without answers
and the life that ends too soon?
what’s the purpose for this madness
God, dare i question you?

when will you enter in?
will you ever intervene?
can’t you simply lift your hand
to end this suffering?

and yet, you turn to me
a question for my ears…
do i not realize
i can answer my own prayers?

can i not lift my hands
to heal the hurt i see?
can i not enter in,
can i not intervene?

you suffered on the cross
and bore our every pain
then gave to us the work
told us go do the same

and i’m beginning now to see
that the answer lies with me
the things i’ve left undone
the pain that i’ve refused to see

the cries that i’ve ignored
the lives that i’ve betrayed
by turning from their eyes
choosing numbness over pain

how can i question God?
how can i complain?
i cast on him the blame
when it is i who bear the shame

 

poem copyright Jenna Fernandez

The Weak are Made Strong

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We may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we all have something to give. We have talents, skills, and resources to contribute to the cause. We all have a voice, no matter how quiet, no matter how frail. The weak are made strong in the hands of a mighty God.

 

Photo Credit: Free photo: Scarf, Close, Market, Colorful – Free Image on Pixabay …

What the Average Person Can Do

Blog_DandelionBreezeWe see the need, we feel compelled. We hear the statistics, we feel overwhelmed. What can one average person do?

That’s how I feel when I listen to news about human trafficking and other injustices in our world. Powerless. Voiceless. Insignificant.

There has to be enough professionals out there to answer the cry of our ailing world. Certainly there are people far more talented. And the rich have infinite resources.

Yet with all the professional, talented, rich people in the world, there is still no end to suffering. Either those with such great resources are not answering the call, or skill and wealth aren’t enough to solve our problems. Or both.

One day Jesus was preaching and people were hungry. Thousands of them. No one in the crowd felt they could meet the need. But a little boy contributed five loaves and two fish, and Jesus multiplied it to feed the multitudes.

I imagine that boy felt powerless, voiceless, and insignificant for much of his life. He thought he was just…average. And yet, his small sacrifice multiplied to make a miraculous difference.

We may not be able to solve all the world’s problems, but we all have something to give. We have talents, skills, and resources to contribute to the cause. We all have a voice, no matter how quiet, no matter how frail. The weak are made strong in the hands of a mighty God.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Proverbs 31:8-9)

“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!” (Amos 5:24)

When We Stand Silent

blog_stadiumsilence

Victory on the field is fleeting. Each year, there will be a new winner and a new loser. But there is NEVER a winner when we stand silent while the next generation stands in chains.

 

Photo Credit: Stadium – Free images on Pixabay