The Compassion of the Suffering

In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 20, verses 17 and following, Jesus is on his final journey to Jerusalem. Jesus told his disciples that in Jerusalem he was going to be betrayed, condemned to death, mocked, beaten, and crucified. Jesus was determined to go. As he and his disciples were leaving Jericho toward Jerusalem, two blind men on the side of the road cried out to Jesus for mercy. “Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight.” It is difficult to imagine the weight of grief in the heart of the Son of God during this journey toward his death. Yet in the midst of his own suffering he showed compassion on two fellow sufferers.

As I read this text this past Thursday morning I thought about the children who are patients of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Often I have observed these children, in the midst of their own suffering, showing compassion to other children who are their fellow sufferers. The weight of suffering carried by the parents of these children is beyond description. I have witnessed these parents, in the midst of their suffering, extend compassion to parents who are also suffering under the weight of their own children’s life-threatening illness.

After reading this text in Matthew, I went to St. Jude for my weekly volunteer shift. Making my initial rounds I spotted a mom and dad I see often. Dad was pushing the stroller carrying their little baby who had surgery shortly after birth to remove a brain tumor. The child has been undergoing chemo treatments. Mom was holding the hand of another young child who is well. I waved them down. Mom continued on to the surgical waiting area. Dad and I talked a minute. Their baby is outpatient and had no appointments that day. They came to the hospital to sit with parents of another patient who was having surgery. In the midst of their suffering this mom and dad were showing compassion to fellow sufferers.

Reading of the compassion of Jesus in the midst of his suffering humbled me. Witnessing the compassion of children with pediatric cancer and the compassion of their parents, compassion from the suffering to the suffering, humbles me. During a time when we understand self-centeredness, the suffering reach out with compassion from hearts large enough for fellow sufferers. I am moved by the capacity for compassion in the hearts of the suffering. My heart is humbled in awe of such unselfishness. Humbled in awe of such love and compassion. Humbled in awe of such Christ-likeness.

This entry was posted in Childhood Cancer, Cross of Christ, Grief and Faith, Jesus Christ, Love, Love of God, Suffering and Faith and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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