Responding with Compassion (When You’d Rather Not)

Years ago an old colleague accused me of gossiping behind her back. It wasn’t a soft accusation either; it was bitter, hurtful, and destructive. She sent me vicious messages on social media and began attacking my reputation. I eventually had to block her on all forms of communication.

This was the first time I’ve experienced false accusation, the first time I’ve been blamed for something that I was actually entirely innocent of, the first time my name has been dragged through the proverbial mud.

You came near when I called you and said, “Do not fear.” You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life. Lord, you have seen the wrong done to me. Uphold my cause!” – Lamentations 3: 55-59 (NIV)

I would like to tell you that I responded by taking the high road. I was a model of maturity. But to be totally honest with you, I became slightly unhinged.

I started to clap back with my own vicious messages. I vented for days. I cried. I lost sleep. I made up imaginary conversations with this woman, including all of the witty things I would say to put her in her proper place. Then I enacted these conversations…aloud…in my car…by myself…like the dignified woman of God that I am.

I did all of this until I realized how much power I was actually giving this injustice. I was allowing it to steal my joy, creativity, thought life, prayer life, and my disposition. On top of it all, I completely lost perspective. I turned this woman into a villain, rather than seeing her as an actual human being who was likely walking through some hardship herself.

I love the book of Lamentations because in it, we find Jeremiah crying out to God on behalf of people who have continually rejected, ridiculed, and rebuked him.

Jeremiah’s laments are rugged and oh so real. But somehow, in the midst of his raw pain, he still chooses to show compassion to the same folks who push him away. For any of us dealing with relational strife, we can learn some powerful things from Jeremiah’s response.

Instead of nursing a wounded ego, Jeremiah moves outward, passionately advocating for his nation. The prophet laments the pain of others while continually surrendering his own fear, worry, and suffering to the Lord.

And on top of it all, he never succumbs to the burning urge to defend his personal reputation (or for that matter, have ridiculous imaginary conversations in his car).

Whatever relational difficulty you are walking through right now, you can adopt the same attitude as Jeremiah, which says, “Do not fear. God is near. He will take up my case. God’s got this.”

And empowered by the undeserved compassion that God has shown us in Jesus, we can all follow Jeremiah’s example and show others—especially those who haven’t earned it—that same supernatural compassion.

It’s unlikely I’ll ever become BFF’s with my accuser. In fact, one of the ways I will protect my heart is to maintain healthy boundaries with her. Still, I can choose compassion for her. I can ask God to open my eyes to her pain. I can pray for her and lament with her.

And I can have hope that somehow God’s giant, compassionate love is enough to uphold both our causes.

If you are hurting today, remember this truth: God draws near to those who call on him. He removes our fear. He redeems our lives. He invades the most difficult of situations with His unstoppable hope. God is at work renewing all things—even our relational pain. And He, mercifully, transforms us in the midst of these trials.

God sings a louder song than any difficulty we face—a song of renewal, restoration, and never-failing compassion.


Prayer and Truth for Today

Dear God,

I praise You for Your compassion. Thank You for suffering for me on the cross and with me in my pain. Thank You for being near when I feel broken-hearted. I confess, Lord, that sometimes I’m tempted to give into pettiness or fear when I am offended. Grant me the grace and the strength to have compassion on all those around me and to walk without fear, trusting that You will take up my cause. Thank you for seeing me and singing Your louder song over the noise of my pain.  

 In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. – James 1:2-4 (NIV)

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him. – Lamentations 3: 19-24 (NIV)

To listen to some of Aubrey’s messages, go to: bringrenewal.com

Reflect and Respond

  1. In what ways is God giving you hope and courage in your current season of struggle?
  2. Are you going through any relational conflict? Or walking with a friend who is? How have you seen God at work in these situations?
  3. What bible verse, worship song lyric, or words of healing and encouragement do you need to hear now? Take this moment to write those down, jot them in your phone, or speak them aloud to yourself. Ask God to help you believe them.

You’ve been reading with Aubrey Sampson from The Louder Song: Listening for Hope in the Midst of Lament. Learn more about Aubrey and the book at loudersong.com. You can also read a free chapter or get the book here.

This article was originally published on Proverbs31.org. Read the original article and all the great content from Proverbs 31 Ministries here.

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