Psalm 116:5: “The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.”

The Lord is loving and kind. If we know Him we have experienced His mercies on a daily basis. People who do not know the Lord are not aware of His kindness, but they can discover His love in His children. The Lord shows up through their compassion.

A remarkable example of compassion is the late Greg Zanis who for the past two decades has made it his habit to visit with mourners in the aftermath of a catastrophe. He passed away in May 2020. Here is an excerpt of a CNN report that published in August 2019:

“Since 1996, when he found his father-in-law murdered, Zanis has built 26,680 crosses, he said on the drive. He would add nine names to his orange notebook after Dayton [Referring to the Dayton shootings on August 4, 2019], he said.

He estimates 21,000 are shooting victims. He’s also taken his white crosses to the aftermath of tornadoes and wildfires, bus and boat crashes, and to Martha’s Vineyard after JFK Jr. and his relatives died in a plane crash. He took five in February to the Henry Pratt Company after a shooting unfolded in his hometown.

Asked how he staves off sadness, he said he doesn’t.

“I break down. You’re going to see me cry. I don’t mind,” he said. “I hug victims all the time, and I try to be strong, but I’m really not. I’m OK with that. I feel so good afterwards because I’ve done something.” * (*Source: CNN.com; web link: https://www.cnn.com/interactive/2019/08/us/memorial-crosses-dayton-cnnphotos/index.html)

In our lifetime there are plenty of occasions where we can show empathy. We don’t have to do much; we only have to show up and be there. Empathy even comes before action and practical help. People need to hear that they are not alone. Helping each other out is both the most human and divine thing happening here on planet Earth.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

Nobody’s heart likes to be broken. Moments of exasperation won’t be listed as our favorite memories. We like to think of the day we met the love of our life; the day we held our first child; the day we experienced a significant breakthrough. We like to revisit our mountaintop moments while we do not like to dwell on our losses and failures.

Loss puts us into a position where we need God the most. God is our merciful Father and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the source of all comfort; healing is under His wings; in Him we find enduring hope. Experiencing His peace in the face of adversity, we can in turn encourage others.

If loss has created any kind of empathy in us, then we have gained more than all of our prior victories combined. Success may feel exhilarating, and yet it is not our victories that connect us to our fellow human beings. Compassion does. God cares – He is closer to us than we are to ourselves. Still, I also strongly believe that God’s presence is fully expressed in human compassion. We need people who can relate.

Who cares? Maybe more people than we think. Certainly God cares – and I believe He is the One creating awareness and stirring empathy. Empathy ignites compassion; compassion ignites hope, and hope is the reason why we are still here.