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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Compassion's Certitude

How easily do you cry? What was the cause of your last tears? Has the state of the church or humanity ever upset you enough to weep? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1080).

Yesterday I had lunch with Marvin Sweat. At the restaurant he told me what happened recently in the dining room of the retirement community where he lives. At breakfast he noticed a new arrival looking kind of sad. Marvin, having arrived at the facility not too long ago himself, realized the emotional stress, even trauma, that moving from a private residence into a public facility can cause. He walked over and spoke with the new arrival at one meal, and the next morning offered him his newspaper. Marvin returned to his seat in the dining hall and began to cry. Unseen by the new arrival, tears ran down his face. When Marvin got back to his room he prayed about it, and God gave assurance that He was in control and that He would do what needed to be done.

Today's meditation from A Year with Jesus by Eugene Peterson is brief: 

The willingness to respond to pain, to misfortune, to suffering, enables us to participate in the divine compassion that changes damnation to redemption. Sorrow does not get stuck in despair, but discovers comfort. Whose sorrow do you share?

The experience of commiseration (sorrow, compassion) we sense in some profound way has a redemptive quality even from a distance, I watch the Today Show in the morning on television, and it is not infrequent that within an interview through a remote feed on the occasion of some tragedy or other, the hosts will say to a victim that we're thinking of you, or we are praying for you. There is a mysterious certitude planted within the human mind that commiseration alone is efficacious. Our belief, though largely undefined, is certain and sure and points to God's omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence.

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