Do You Have Room for Compassion?

Willow Creek | April 12, 2022

How are you?

How are you really doing?

How would you respond if a friend or coworker interrupted your day and asked you for a ride to the airport or help with their kids? Would you help?

Personally, I feel like my life is at the brim, not in the beautiful, overflowing way. It’s the “I can’t hold one more drop of anything” kind of way. A busy work schedule and two young kids don’t leave much margin. I am constantly holding my breath. My heart rate skyrockets every time my phone rings, just anticipating lousy news (or a sick kid that needs to be picked up). And the more full my life gets, the more it becomes about me: my time, my self-care, my break, my control, my way. And when an interruption happens—a friend is in need, or my attention is desired—I quickly jump to “no.” I plain and simply do not have it in me. 

Then I go to church and hear a sermon on the compassion of Jesus. My honest, internal voice does one of two things: I lean on the few moments last week when I did make room for others and feel self-justified, or I get defensive, saying I simply do not have any more to offer. 

Both of those reactions are warning lights and an invitation to receive from God because the truth is, I don’t have it in me.

In Luke 9:1–3, Jesus sends His disciples out to do ministry with nothing but His power and authority. They have no extra clothes and no food. They got reliant on His strength, provision, and the kindness of strangers. They come back with miraculous stories and some bad news: Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist was killed.

When Jesus hears, He retreats from the crowd, taking His disciples to a quiet place. But the crowd follows. Jesus is grieving and tired, and yet, He doesn’t see the crowd as an interruption; He sees it as an opportunity. In Matthew 14:14, it says Jesus saw the crowd and “had compassion on them.”

It is likely that Jesus’ disciples were also tired and worn out; they did see the crowd as an interruption and asked Jesus to send them away. But Jesus challenged them: “You give them something to eat” (Luke 9:13). He could have easily fed the 5,000 Himself, but Jesus wanted to put them in a position (yet again) to be reliant and receive from Him, then give to others. It seems like the disciples needed to learn that lesson repeatedly—I can relate!

If you’re finding yourself short on compassion, unable to show kindness, grace, and mercy to others, think about the last time you received compassion from Jesus. In the midst of a busy, unpredictable life, do you allow Him to sit with you, care for you, and shift your priorities? 

If you’re too busy focusing on your things, you’ll miss out on Jesus’s things. Have grace on yourself, yes, but be willing to take your to-do list and ask God what He might have along the way. Just as Jesus did for the disciples, He will give you everything you need to do all He set before you, if only you have eyes to see, hands to receive, and a heart to be moved.