REACHING OUT WITH COMPASSION LIKE OUR LORD
“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
God brings people into our lives who need our ministry of presence. People who are facing trials and difficulties… sadness and pain… anxiety and fear. Often, the only way we can help is to be present with them. A loving, compassionate, peaceful presence in their lives.
Even our Lord desired the presence of His apostles in His time of great need. In the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked that His friends stay alert and wait with Him. For He knew that soon His accusers would arrive to take Him away. Jesus only wanted the company of His loyal followers…
“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with Me.” – Matthew 26:38
Throughout the night, Jesus wrestled in prayer… an arduous struggle… a battle between His humanity and His divinity. In His agony, His sweat fell like drops of blood. Our Savior knew His mission… one that could not be avoided. For it was the Master’s plan… a plan formed in ages past.
Jesus would fulfill the will of the Father at the highest of costs… His life. He would lay down His life of His own accord to win the victory over death. Life to death and death to life. One would die for all. His resurrection would give life to all who believe.
At this critical time in His ministry, Jesus longed for those who loved Him and cared about Him to be near. Yet three times He returned from His place of prayer only to find the apostles asleep. Their drowsiness overcame them. They could not keep awake to pray.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” – John 15:12
As Jesus hung upon the cross, all except one of the apostles abandoned Him. Only a handful of devoted followers stayed by His side… the apostle John, Mary the mother of Jesus, together with a few women. The ministry of their presence must have been invaluable to Jesus at this most difficult time of His earthly life. Even though they could do little to help… they could not affect His mission… yet they could be present with Him.
Our compassionate presence can mean the world to a person in need. Whether we weep with them, pray with them or just sit in their company, we will be a caring and welcome presence. We may not be able to change their situation or solve their problems. We may not even be sure of the right words to say. Yet our help in their time of trial will be our companionship… a true comfort.
If we see tangible ways we can help, we step in… perhaps bringing groceries, cooking a meal, offering a ride. Yet most importantly, we listen and pray. We listen as they share with us their hurts, their sadness, their fears. We pray… either together with them or silently to ourselves. We pray to the only One who can truly help… the Comforter Himself, Jesus.
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” – Luke 23:34
If we are going through a stormy time ourselves, can we still minister with our presence? Jesus never stopped reaching out in compassion to others throughout His time on earth. Even in His darkest hour, He offered forgiveness to those who sought His life. He ministered to the two criminals on crosses beside Him. We are not to wait until our life is a placid sea before reaching out to those in need.
“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep.” – Romans 12:15
Jesus shared not only others’ sorrows but their joys as well. The ministry of presence can be given to people in their times of gladness too. We can rejoice with others over the good news in their lives. We can share in their joys and their victories.
“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:4
In trials and triumphs… tears and laughter… sorrows and joy, we can reach out like Jesus to those in need. We can be there for them. Let us minister to their hearts with a heart of compassion like our Savior. Let us express to them their value… in our eyes and in the eyes of God… by our caring, loving presence.