Compassion

I’m reading a book called Fields of the Fatherless by C. Thomas Davis right now in my “spare” time. I picked it up for two reasons: First, it caught my eye with the “Fatherless” part of the title. Second, it was 75% off. The book is actually all about caring for those in need – orphans, widows, and strangers. Towards the beginning of the book, it asks the question, “what do the Fatherless look like today,” and gives these pictures:

  • A widower at church who always shares candy with the squirrely kids.
  • The girl who babysits your children and has no father at home.
  • The single mom next door who always seems to be harried – in and out of her car with kids, groceries, and work related paraphernalia.
  • The unruly little boy at your child’s class who keeps getting moved to another foster home
  • The only looking Asian college student waiting for the buss everyday as you pass by.
  • Even your own grandma who lost her husband 10 years ago and spends her days watching soap operas.

The book goes all through the Old and New Testaments, talking about God’s care and concern for these “strangers” in life, and how that concern was put into flesh by Jesus. It then goes on to talk about what we can do to make a difference in the lives of these people. I love this excerpt on the true meaning of compassion, which goes far beyond what we typically think of in our day to day lives:

The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, which together mean “to suffer with.” Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.

There you have it. The definition of compassion is about involvement. To be compassionate means to get out of the boat of our current circumstances and get into the boats of those who are suffering. We are called to bear the burdens of those who are in need of our companionship – to “weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).”

I love that. Compassion is not just about caring. It is about involvement… about doing something when you find someone in need that you can impact.

I’m looking forward to finishing the book. It’s a good read. On their website, they have this little poem, which I think summarizes the book, and the mission, well:

In this world you are an orphan—

eagerly anticipating your adoption as God’s child.

In this world you are a widow—

longing for reunion with your Bridegroom.

In this world you are a stranger—

a pilgrim waiting to become a citizen of heaven.

And in this world, God has called you to care for the orphan,
the stranger, and the widow. Fields of the Fatherless is a journey
that brings you back to what Christianity is all about:

Giving yourself to others

  Being Christ to a hurting world

And living for the one that comes next.

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