Today’s Truth

He felt compassion.

Luke 10:33

Friend to Friend

It was Easter Sunday, and I was sitting in the sanctuary waiting for the worship service to begin. Anticipating a large crowd, I arrived early to drop our son Jered off in the nursery, one of his favorite places to go because every nursery worker spoiled him rotten.

As the choir filed in, a friend slipped into the pew beside me and said, “I think you need to go to the nursery. Something is wrong with Jered.” Jumping up, I catapulted over legs, toes and bodies as I raced to the nursery and my son.

I was not prepared for what I saw.

Over in the corner, lying on his favorite red mat was Jered, staring at the ceiling, silent and rigid. As I bent over my precious son and looked into those beautiful blue eyes, huge tears slid down his chubby cheeks as he flew into my arms, sobbing. You have to understand that the only time Jered cried was when he was hungry, wet or sick. He was always smiling, happy and contented. Something was obviously very wrong.

I kissed his forehead. No fever. I checked his diaper. Dry and clean. I had no idea what had happened. Just then, Mrs. Giles, Jered’s favorite nursery worker, drew me aside and said, “Let me fill you in. We had a new little girl in the nursery today. It was her first time in a church nursery – ever. When her parents left, she immediately began screaming and wouldn’t stop.” Mrs. Giles said Jered came running and wrapped his arms around the distraught child, but she pushed him away. He then brought her his bottle, but she hurled it across the room and kept right on screaming. Desperate to help the little girl, Jered found his diaper bag and fished out Turtle.

Whoa! This was serious business!

Turtle was a small, stuffed green and blue turtle we had given Jered months earlier when he was in the hospital, seriously ill with croup. From the moment he saw Turtle, Jered took that stuffed animal everywhere he went.

Jered slept with Turtle clutched tightly in one hand.

Jered ate with Turtle sitting in his lap.

Jered made sure Turtle was carefully tucked in his diaper bag when we left the house.

Turtle was Jered’s most precious possession and an invaluable source of comfort to him.

Mrs. Giles continued, “I couldn’t believe Jered was willing to give Turtle to a stranger, but he tried.” The crying child had taken one look at Turtle and thrown it in Jered’s face. Stunned, he picked up Turtle, dusted it off, and laid down on the mat, refusing to move, the stuffed animal clutched tightly in his arms.

Then I knew.

I knew Jered could not stand to see the little girl in pain and was determined to help. When he couldn’t, he retreated until someone else came to help. That’s compassion.

The word “compassion” is a key word in Scripture and can be defined as “called to one’s side to help.” Compassion is empathy, not just sympathy. When it comes to dealing with people in pain, we mistakenly equate compassion with “fixing” them. Genuine compassion is first being willing to feel their pain.

If we can’t prevent pain, we can at least lessen the load with compassion. Allen Redpath wrote, “You can never lighten the load unless you have first felt the pressure in your own soul.” To develop compassion, we must be willing to feel the pain of others, responding as if it were our own.

I believe one of the reasons we encounter and are forced to deal with difficult people is because the more pain we experience, the more compassionate we will be. We must learn to use our pain in the right way, not lashing out, but looking within to identify with and share the pain of others.

There is a choice in every pain, an opportunity in every trial. We can understand and comfort others who walk through the same trials we face. Pain makes us focus inward or outward. It makes us martyrs or merciful. The choice is ours.

Let’s Pray

Father, I need to be more compassionate. Please help me to see the pain in the lives of others. Show me how to comfort them. Let them hear You in the words I speak. Let them feel Your love in the way I treat them. Let them see You in me.

In Jesus’ name,


Now It’s Your Turn

Think of one person in your life that is hurting. How can you help ease their pain? Ask God to show you one specific action you can take today. Then do it! I would love to hear the story of how God worked through you to help someone. Email me at

More from the Girlfriends

Sometimes it is hard to know how to be a friend. Mary’s six-week Bible Study, I Need a Friend, explores 9 steps you can take to find true friendship and be a better friend. Check it out!

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2 Responses to “I Feel Your Pain”

  1. Michelle says:

    Wow, powerful message this morning. Thank you Mary. One of my biggest challenges with compassion is that I often ‘feel’ the person’s pain so much it overwhelms me, even if I don’t know the other person. For example, the other day I was having my acupuncture treatment and I could hear a fellow patient who was elderly in one of the other rooms describe his long term pain. His son was there with him to explain how it has basically taken over his life. As I was lying there tears rolled down my face, even though I was going through some grieving issues of my own I just ‘felt’ his pain and it almost overtook me. Sometimes hearing of others pain and suffering in the world becomes so overwhelming for me it worsen’s my own depression and I have to retreat from everything.

    Other times I have a really hard shell around me where I suppress painful emotions, then the floodgates open to the other extreme.
    I’m sure others have experienced this response too. My prayer is that I can have compassion and be able to be with those in pain without taking on that pain myself and almost literally ‘feeling’ their pain. A middle ground would be lovely God! I am working on having healthier emotional boundaries. Fortunately I am getting better at protecting myself as there have been some people who have taken advantage of my nature, so I’ve had to keep a distance for my own health and to be able to care for my own family. Sometimes the Christian ‘guilt’ sets in, and is not always realistic. Sometimes I have to keep a distance because I’m going through too much personal pain and has nothing to do with the other person, it just hurts too much.

    Thank you so much for your devotions Mary, I love your down to earth style and honesty.

  2. Thank you, friend, for sharing your heart … and your pain. You are right … there are boundaries we have to put in place. God helps us discern when to act. And helps us bear the burdens of others. And I so appreciate your your words of encouragement. Bless you, friend.

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