By Mary Southerland
“Share each other’s troubles and problems, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:2 (NLT)
I was worried about our daughter. Danna has a severe case of endometriosis. She is often in so much pain that her husband finds her is curled up in a ball on her bathroom floor. Her OB/GYN is beginning to talk with her about having a hysterectomy. She is only 35! So, I struggle with worrying about her instead of trusting God to care for her. But I’m trying! For weeks, Danna has had severe pain in her shoulder that radiates under her arm into her upper back. She has tried just about everything – hot showers and baths, massage therapy, stretches, her husband trying to work out the knots with a handheld massager, using a Tens unit – but nothing has worked. So finally, her doctor prescribed physical therapy.
Physical therapy is usually painful. I have had to go through physical therapy after shoulder surgery for my back which is riddled with arthritis, Scoliosis, degenerative disc disease, and stenosis. And there are my knees - which are bone-on-bone, they tell me. Other than those issues, nothing hurts. But the fact is that physical therapy is usually painful. I know it is for my good, but it still hurts! I did not tell Danna that physical therapy can be painful because I didn’t want her to worry, and just maybe it wouldn’t be so excruciating. I was wrong. She called me in tears, describing all of the horrible things they did to her.
Danna’s youngest son, Hudson, is a walking heart. He knows my back always hurts, so whenever I am with him, he eventually stands beside me and lightly rubs my back. His love does lessen the pain. He especially does not like it when anyone hurts his mom – doctors included. So, when Danna picked the boys up from school, Hudson wanted to know every detail about what they had done. Hudson adores Danna. They have the most precious relationship.
When Danna described the physical therapy she had just experienced, she said Hudson’s eyes got bigger and bigger. Then came the question that undid him. “Mom, where did they do those things to you?” When Danna lightly touched the places on Hud where she had just gone through so many painful therapies, including dry needles, inserting a needle into the trigger points, and then turning on the electrical current, Hudson started crying. I asked, “Danna, did you poke him when describing the therapy? She said, “No! I just barely touched the spots where I was in pain. He started crying because someone had hurt his mom, and he could not stand it!” I had just been schooled in the true meaning of compassion – by my 9-year-old grandson.
Hudson reminded me of the Good Samaritan, with whom I have a love-hate relationship. The Samaritan decided to use his pain to help someone else who had been wounded. The Samaritan had experienced pain in his own life. He could have surrendered to that pain, as so many people do. But he made a different choice. You see, all Jews hated all Samaritans. It was just a fact. Jews had absolutely nothing to do with Samaritans. And here was the problem. The man lying on the road was indeed a Jew.
Think about that fact for a moment and let it sink in. There was no logical reason for this Samaritan to change his plans and spend his money to help this “enemy” or “sandpaper person” in need. But compassion doesn’t look for reasons to look for boundaries or restrictions. Instead, it pursues every opportunity to help those in need.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
I can only imagine the thoughts running through the Samaritan’s mind. He had a choice to make, just like we do. Whenever we see someone hurting or in need, we choose to help them or turn and walk away. We must change the way we think. Why? Because choosing not to help the wounded ones who cross our paths each day contradicts everything Jesus teaches.
The hard-to-love, obnoxious people who drive us crazy did not cross our path by accident. Instead, God orchestrated that meeting to allow us to make the same choice the Good Samaritan made. The real question then becomes, are we willing to put aside our comfort to help someone in pain? Are we ready to be a Good Samaritan to the Sandpaper People in our lives?
- Go back and read the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) with a new mindset of compassion.
- Read Isaiah 54:10 and Isaiah 63:7 and celebrate that your God is filled with compassion. Then, consider memorizing one of these verses.
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.
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