The Negative Cost of Caring!
I trust you are doing well and looking forward to Sunday.
Earlier today I heard a report on the local news about a condition I’d never before heard of: Compassion Fatigue. The news cast reported this condition in conjunction with the Covid-19 pandemic that has plagued our country now for almost two years. The report focused on those who are on the front lines of health care: Nurses, Doctors and other care givers along with teachers. The term was first coined in 1992 by Carla Johnson and describes the negative impact hospital nurses were experiencing as a result of their repeated, daily exposure to patient emergencies. The condition is “characterized by emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a diminished ability to empathize or feel compassion for others, often described as the negative cost of caring.” According to the experts, “compassion fatigue is considered to be the result of working directly with victims of disasters, trauma, or illness, especially in the health care industry. Today the term is applied to other professions such as social workers, palliative care workers, police officers, firefighters, child protection care workers and a host of others. Any individual working in the helping professions is at risk for experiencing compassion fatigue.”
All of us can identify with this problem. It is easy to become “desensitized” to the issues, hurts, problems and needs of others and become cold and calloused. People fail to respond and express their thanks when we reach out and care for them. Sacrifices and gifts we make for others are not appreciated. A simple “thank you” is not even given. It’s easy to think “why even bother with caring?”
As the people of God, our mission is to manifest God’s character to the world around us. This includes evidencing His compassion towards others. Paul put it this way in Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” As much as we would like for God to simply make us into compassionate people tomorrow, it doesn’t quite work that way. Like other evidences of the Spirit, we partner with God in receiving God’s compassionate heart towards others as we place ourselves in positions to practice it. It takes work, energy and a committed desire to be like the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here are seven specific steps you can take to become a more tender-hearted person.
1. Fight against selfish ambition. The more selfishly ambitious you are the less compassionate you will be. Just check out the disciples in the gospels.
2. Put off a self-righteous spirit. In Luke 18, Jesus talked about those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and treated others with contempt. The two go together.
3. Love your neighbor as yourself. In other words, take the way you show compassion to yourself and use it as a model for the way you should show compassion to others. A simple way to begin is to slow down and actually try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and view life from their eyes.
4. Spend time meditating on the law of God and not just on your own little rules. We like our own little rules because we can keep them and when we can keep them and others can’t, we feel like we are better than they are and have a hard time showing compassion. A good long study of the actual law of God won’t let us do that. It will break us and show us how desperately needy we are for the compassion of God ourselves.
5. Set God apart in your heart. One of the reasons we don’t show compassion to others is because we have ourselves at the center of our world. But we are really not the center of the world. God is. And He is up to something much bigger than simply exalting us. He is interested in more than just us. That other person, yeah, the one you don’t even notice, He is actually interested in them. He created them after all. They are made in His image, and you can’t start thinking you are so important that you don’t at least respect that.
6. Believe in God. Fear often keeps us from showing compassion. But what if there was a God who was in control and was actively seeking our good and was able to administer justice perfectly at the end of time, how would you act then? Well, that’s exactly the way the universe is. There is a God who in control and all that, so believe it and prove it, by acting towards others not on the basis of fear but faith.
7. Pray that God Himself will break you. It is a lot more difficult to be haughty towards others when God Himself has brought you to your knees.
See you this Sunday in person or online.
In the light of His glory and grace,