Let’s start this off with a very obvious fact: we are all broken, messed up human beings in need of redemption.
With that said, let’s admit another obvious fact (that’s even less palatable): most of us are very good at hiding the fact that we’re broken, messed up people, for fear that we will be unloved and rejected.
OK, with that said, why should we care about the suffering of others when we have our own pain? What is it to us that someone else is suffering? We hear it all the time: “This world is tough, kid; get used to it! It’s unfair and the sooner you learn that, the sooner you can move on with your life.” Many of us take that bull-headed approach to such an extreme that we simply ignore the suffering in others, saying, “Well, it’s unfortunate, but that’s how the world works.”
And yet, is that really how we, as human beings, are supposed to respond to the suffering in others? Just because this broken world is unfair and decaying, does that really let us off the hook from helping others in their hurt?
“Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” — Dalai Lama
Some of the most life changing moments of hope in my life have come through simple, yet powerful acts of kindness. Don’t get me wrong, kindness is not always the only answer to problems that require even greater compassion, but kindness is of much greater value than we often know.
I’ll never forget a moment of kindness showed to me when I was struggling financially in Los Angeles in 2008. A few weeks before I returned to Charlotte, I was meeting for coffee with a very new friend named Ben. We had met at a men’s retreat with our church that year and barely even knew each other. As we talked over coffee, I told him about my financial struggles and the reality that I would most likely return to Charlotte. During the conversation, Ben excused himself, ran across the street to an ATM, and returned with $300 in cash. Handing the money to me, he said (paraphrasing), “Andrew, I want you to stay in LA and I hope this helps you.” I was stunned. Friends I had known for much longer had not offered such an act of generosity, but here was a guy I barely knew handing me hundreds of dollars to support my dreams. Incredible.
Kindness is a drug we all need. I’ve never known someone who didn’t want to be cared for, loved, and noticed. It simply is in our DNA.
Each day we interact with people who are hurting, carrying burdens we know nothing about. What if our hearts were visible? What if everyone around us could see through the show of laughter and self-confidence? If we could see the pain, the heartache, and the suffering in others, how would that change our everyday encounters?
People secretly hurt because they don’t want others to reject them. Be kind.
Others suffer silently because they’re afraid they’ll be abandoned. Be gentle.
Humanity has been hiding ever since the fall – hiding even from God after rebelling against Him for the first time in human history. If people attempt to hide from the all-knowing God, what makes you think that they will show you – a mere human being – their true selves?
We must start caring about others, knowing that they are going through their own battles, their own suffering, and their own doubts. Kindness, gentleness, and love are always possible. We must stop making excuses for our lack of compassion.
What will you do today as you step into your world? Who’s life can you touch with an act of kindness?
Never underestimate the life-giving potential you have through compassion, for without it, Jesus would never have died for us, taking our place on the cross of shame.