When Compassion is Sadly Lacking

The Christmas season is fast approaching. For many families here in the Philippines, it will be a season of sadness and grieving, of homelessness and even hopelessness. The Christmas carols and blinking lights will be cruel reminders of loved ones lost and bleak futures. The typhoons that ravaged the country one strong fury after another will cast a dark shadow over the holiday celebrations. In these times of darkness and pain, the gift of compassion is greatly needed.

Sadly, there is a dearth of compassion in this world, even among so-called “Christians“.  It is highly encouraging to witness through the news funds being raised and food being distributed among the typhoon victims week after week. The heroism of a people is usually seen in tragedies of epic scales. But among the ordinary folks eking their way into existence every single day, a brief encounter with compassion is an oasis to a thirsty and war-weary soul. Yes, an oasis in the desert — hard to find, seldom seen, and a flitting mirage at best — but very much needed.

Compassion —  the deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the active desire to alleviate it — is something every hurting soul needs right now. Let us give it. Let us throw away useless platitudes, judgment, self-righteousness and even a messianic complex. Let us just feel with the hurting — no words, just feelings and loving gestures. Maybe a hug, a sincere pat on the shoulder, an understanding and kind glance. This is compassion. A soft and gentle voice mouthing judgment is not the same thing.

We call ourselves “Christians” — let us live in the way Jesus Christ lived. He is compassionate (Exodus 34:6 – “…The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”). If we want to know how else we can sincerely express compassion, we can look to Jesus’ examples in his word (you can check out BibleGateway.com). After all, he is our best example.

Ignorance is not bliss!

Have you ever noticed how many people so readily offer unsolicited advice? This always gets to me. I hope I am not guilty of the same thing — at least, I try to be very aware that I just listen and not give some random and unresearched advice.

As I have posted earlier, I am going through major depression — or a relapse of it. I have already shared this with a group we used to belong to only recently. It  was necessary for me to share this because I can no longer fulfill my responsibilities to the group.

I was half expecting it, yet I dreaded it — that someone in the group would eventually say her piece to try and make me feel better. And then it came. The so-called “advice” was so ridiculous that it reeked of total ignorance of my condition and even the lack of compassion. Why, oh why, did she have to say it?

Why do people love to give their five cents’ worth of advice without first getting their facts straight? Why do people love to talk and sound knowledgeable when they know nothing at all? In our field of ministry, we also encounter a lot of people who love to “counsel” other people but don’t bother to equip themselves with even basic counseling skills. So instead of being a comfort to the troubled person, they unknowingly become a source of discouragement and guilt! But they don’t know this and think that they are simply gifted with the ability to counsel people.

I’m sorry to burst their bubble but ignorance isn’t bliss! With the availability of information over the internet, there is simply no excuse to be ignorant. We need to equip ourselves with knowledge, especially if we have the desire to help others. I especially urge those who have the annoying tendency to play doctor to at least get some much needed facts before even blurting anything out.

The truth is, the more one talks, the more one’s intelligence or ignorance is made evident. I have noticed many times,though, that the more knowledgeable and secure a person is, the less he talks. But the more foolish and insecure a person is, the more he tries to compensate for his lack by blabbering. This is sad.

I pray I will not encounter another faux doctor any time soon. No, I don’t need any advice about my condition. I’ve done my research and I continue to do so. I also have a real doctor to tell me what I need to hear.