Recently, I was in the hospital emergency department because I was having heart pains. I had such intense pain that it was all I could think about. The pain was so bad I could not sleep. After 48 hours of this intensity, I went for help. It was an unnerving and very difficult experience on so many levels. Without the hope and help of Jesus, I am not sure how that day would have turned out. And then, just six days later, I was back in the emergency department with more pain elsewhere and another concerning situation. And even though the situations seemed to be about me, I don’t really believe that they were. Each of those experiences became something special, orchestrated by the hand of God.
While I sat in the waiting room dealing with my heart pain, I looked across the crowd, and my heart was pained in a whole other way. I saw suffering and agony all around me. In addition to the physical ailments and wounds, there was loneliness, fatigue, anger, frustration, impatience, disagreement, unkind speech, and tears were being shed. Some thoughts struck me as I looked across the room into the eyes of these hurting souls. I wondered if this was what it was like when Jesus looked across the crowds that surrounded Him. People came from every quarter, bringing themselves and others for help. He was moved with compassion for them as sheep who did not have a shepherd. And He began to meet their needs.1 He did not come to be served but to serve and ultimately to give His life as a ransom for many.2 What would He think if He were sitting here beside me in the waiting room? What would He do? Did I do what He would have done?
Jesus saw the pain in the hearts of the people around Him. He knew of their fears and failures, their foibles and follies. He knew of their sins: past, present, and future. He knew of their doubts and hypocrisy, criticism and wickedness. And He offered Himself to all and for all.3 And here we are today, with all kinds of pain in our hearts, but the remedy is always the same: Him. If it is physical pain, He is the Great Physician. If it is spiritual pain, He is the Great Savior. If it is emotional pain, He is the Great Comforter. If it is relational pain, He is the Great Reconciler. If it is mental pain, He is the Great Omniscient One.
So, when we are in the emergency department, or anywhere else, in fact, the eyes we look into belong to those Jesus loves, those for whom He gave His life. Are we pouring out the love of Christ for them? Are we able to shift our focus from the pain in our own hearts to the pain others carry in theirs? Can we cause something different to begin to take place wherever it is that we are? Can we move from focusing on the physical to focusing on the spiritual and what it is we can do to help and comfort others? When we are compassionate, we sympathetically look on the suffering of others and desire to remove it. Our hearts are tender and caring, gently and kindly reaching out to offer assistance. It is a beautiful experience to be able to step into the lives of these hurting people—to offer them words of comfort, to offer them physical assistance, to share helpful information, to direct them or assist them to the places where they need to go, to encourage them by offering prayer, to speak for the voiceless, to listen to their stories and hearts, and more.
So, although I was in the emergency department for heart pains and other issues, I was no longer there for me, I was there for them, the people in the room with me. And really, isn’t that why we are on this earth? We are not here for ourselves, but for them. We are the hands and feet of Christ until He returns to set all things right. We are here not to look out for our own interests but for the interests of others.4 This is what truly matters because they are who truly matter. They matter to God.
So, let your heart feel the pains of compassion because hearts are pained. Give them help. Give them hope. Give them Jesus.
1 See Matthew 9:35–36.
2 See Mark 10:45.
3 See John 12:32.
4 See Philippians 2:4.
©Text and photo Francee Strain, February 20, 2022