We, in America, are incredibly fortunate and blessed individuals. We live in one of the greatest countries on the planet and we reap the benefits of our nation being a superpower. Our lives, by virtue of living in America, are amazing.
However, there are so many others in the world who are not nearly as fortunate as we are; these people, through no fault of their own, are destitute and largely forgotten. That thought alone breaks my heart.
As these weighty and rather despairing thoughts weighed upon my mind over the course of the last few months, I found it encouraging that so many philosophers were ardently working to lessen the prominent suffering around the world. Karl Popper, for example, says that everyone makes ethics way too complicated; ethics, Popper says, is all about the alleviation of suffering. And, friends, that is what our duty to “[love] our brothers and sisters,” is all about. Scripture tells us so in 1 John
We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death….If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” — 1 John 3:14, 17-18
So, with this passage and Karl Popper’s words in mind, I would like to ask you to join with me as we look at the key for beginning to resolve the issue of suffering.
Our Greatest Example is Jesus Christ.
Jesus is, essentially, our hero. One reason He is our hero is due to how he ministered. While the Pharisees and other religious leaders were bombastically declaring what they thought was the law of God, Jesus actually spent time daily with sinners, the poor, and the societal outcasts. Did he approach these groups of people like the Pharisees did?
Not at all.
He greeted, welcomed, and showed genuine compassion to these unfortunate souls. Notice that Jesus was also homeless and destitute. In John 7:53 we are told that Jesus slept on mountainsides and Mark 2:23 reveals that Jesus didn’t have any money. Despite that, Jesus left us a curious command in John 13:35, “By this will everyone know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Let Us Not Forget about the Suffering We Cause
We need to remember extreme suffering too, but did you know that you might cause a friend or a fellow believer to suffer by your words or actions? Proverbs 12:18 says, “Rash words are like sword thrusts.” How is it, though, that we often don’t perceive when we injure someone else? How is it that we do so little in restoring those whom we have injured?
Dare to allow compassion to reign again in your lives; dare to allow the genuine compassion of Christ to be your sole focus once more.
We Can Never Do “Enough”
We need to abolish the thought that we can stop helping others. You can’t claim to live a moral life if you don’t actively help those who suffer. With that said, you might think it’s impossible to make a difference, but it isn’t.
Paul said in Ephesians 4:25 that “We are all members of one body,” which means every person has a role to play, that every person is immensely important — even the poorest person on the planet. So, tear down the calloused walls of dismissiveness towards the enormous suffering all around you; allow genuine compassion to direct you towards your own unique way of alleviating suffering.