When the nation saw Gabby Giffords standing among colleagues last week after the horrific attack on eighteen in Tucson last year, there were many words that came to mind but the one that stuck with me was compassion. Not just my compassion for her or her husband or even the families so tragically hurt by this attack. I felt her compassion for her constituents and her nation when she gave up her seat in Congress – her seat of power – because power did not mean as much as being healthy. Why do we choose so many alternatives to mental and emotional health? Why do we seek remedies that often harm us or mask problems rather than making the right choice to be well?
Amy Grant, the singer songwriter, said, “…my experience is that people who have been through painful, difficult times are filled with compassion.” We do need to experience the crucible of difficulty and pain to become compassionate. We don’t invite it, we don’t desire difficulties, we would like to avoid them but they will come to us. Maybe you are experiencing difficulties right now. These times grow your compassion. Jesus suffered and anyone who follows him will suffer too. It is inevitable. I tried to look at some of the New Testament citations for Jesus compassion but there were so many instances where Jesus saw the people following him. Look for yourself and see what Jesus did and how he lived. It was out of this deep well of compassion that he gave himself up for you and the whole world. Even if you have doubts and questions about faith remember the choice is to become bitter or better from difficulties. Let compassion grow strong in you. Make the difficulties a tool that sharpens your intellect of compassion.