Suzanne's Second Estate

A web log of my thoughts, activities, life....

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sorrow and Compassion

Today I sat in the food court of the mall at lunchtime and watched people (one of my favorite pastimes). As I sat there, a group of punks walked by — one of them a beautiful girl, her head half shaved, eyes masked in black eyeliner, lip ring protruding from her lower lip. I watched her sullen face, wondering what made her sad or angry...or was that fear behind her eyes? My gaze turned to an older man, in his late 60s, sitting alone. No ring on his finger. He held an auto magazine, but he stared off into space. At the very next table, sat a teen boy with acne. He wore an oversized letterman jacket — perhaps his one claim to "coolness." Under the jacket he wore the same choir uniform as several dozen other teens who sat in clumps laughing and chattering. But he sat alone, facing away from them, head down, concentrating on his chicken sandwich.

As I imagined what the stories of these three people might be, I suddenly felt sad. And to think this emotion came from observing a cross-section of society at a mall in the most privileged country in the world. Things get worse when you consider the plight of the human race — the orphan problem in Russia, the AIDS problem in Africa, world hunger, disease. The amount of sorrow and suffering that humanity is experiencing at any given moment is completely overwhelming.

A friend and I were talking about this very thing this weekend. She shared that she often struggles with taking on the problems and pain of others. When she sees someone she perceives to be in pain, she will often think about it all day. Her words reminded me of something Amy Carmichael said. Amy, a missionary to India in the early 1900s, rescued little girls from temple prostitution. Though her work was effective, she could not save every little girl. She wrote:

"There were days when the sky turned black for me because of what I heard and knew was true . . . Sometimes it was as if I saw the Lord Jesus Christ kneeling alone, as He knelt long ago under the olive trees . . . And the only thing that one who cared could do, was to go softly and kneel down beside Him, so that He would not be alone in His sorrow over the little children."

This thought is so freeing. Jesus feels the pain of every human. He understands it more than I. My responsibility is to mourn with Him. He is the One who has the power to heal hearts and restore life. Lord, give me compassion for those who hurt.


At 12:30 AM, Blogger Anna H. said...

Well put. Thank you for letting God speak through you, Suzanne.

At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Danielle said...

I was reading from Luke 7 today and it was the story about when Jesus met the widow who was mourning the loss of her only son. In verse 13 it says, "When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don't cry.' " That really touched me today. You see Christ's humanity and how he does identify with our sufferings.


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