"A suffering with another; painful sympathy; a sensation of sorrow excited by the distress or misfortunes of another; pity; commiseration. Compassion is a mixed passion, compounded of love and sorrow; at least some portion of love generally attends the pain or regret, or is excited by it. Extreme distress of an enemy even changes enmity into at least temporary affection."Compassion costs us. Loving someone often involves feeling their hurts ... entering with them into their pain and suffering. Everything inside of me seems to fight against this idea ... all seems to protect and shield me from hurting with people ... it sometimes seems that I have lost the ability to feel. At times when I feel like this it seems that the Holy Spirit will break through ... a woman will call and tell me that their husband left her ... and I will cry with her ... I will hear a news story ... and I will cry as I pray ... someone will come for prayer ... and I will be moved to tears as I hear their story. When I think about times like these I am reminded of what Jesus said:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)I think that true intercession is not taking on the pain or yoke of another but taking that pain to Jesus at a heart level ... as we let our heart break for another then we can then carry their broken heart (with ours) to Christ through prayer where He can help them ... this seems to be the effectual fervent prayer that James tells us about.
The ministry of Christ was indelibly marked by compassion. At every turn His heart seemed to break for hurting and sick people ... He was mercy and compassion personified. Here are a few passages from the gospels that give us a peek into the heart of God ... as you read them picture Jesus as the disciples saw him ... moving in a very visible and emotional fashion ... how else could they recognize compassion:
"when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and scattered, as sheep not having a shepherd."Jesus was not afraid to let His heart break ... for sick people ... for outcasts and lepers ... for distressed leaderless people ... for grieving people. With hurting people all around us how can we be any different. When we, with brokenhearts, take the hurting hearts of others to Jesus He will help them ... give them rest for their souls and bind up their broken hearts.
"he came forth, and saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, and healed their sick."
"And a leper came to Him, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying to Him, "If You are willing, You can make me clean." And moved with compassion, He stretched out His hand, and touched him, and said to him, "I am willing; be cleansed." And immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed."
"Now as He approached the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a sizeable crowd from the city was with her. And when the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, "Do not weep." And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise!" And the dead man sat up, and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother."