Momentum (Christ – centred, Spirit – empowered, Mission – focused)
A few weeks ago I returned from a trip to Haiti. It was quite an adventure， an experience that I will not soon forget. However， upon my return to Canada I was shocked to discover that I had picked up a disorder that has been very troubling. It is not physical in nature but rather spiritual and emotional. It is not found in a textbook but it is more prevalent than many of us would like to admit. I call it “Compassion Detachment.”
Compassion Detachment is a form of emotional and physical withdrawal from certain situations of human need that are too intense or overwhelming. After a week in Haiti—where I was exposed to some of the most extreme forms of human poverty: children living in a garbage dump， emaciated people begging for food， orphans looking lost and hopeless—I found myself beginning to detach emotionally. It seemed that I was in some kind of internal overload and my compassion sensitivities were beginning to shut down. The end result was that I was becoming immobilized.
So much need， so much suffering， so much pain.The scale of the need was so immense， I began to involuntarily withdraw. I looked but I no longer could feel. I saw but I no longer could connect deeply with the images. I was numb. I wonder if I am not alone in my experience. It seems several times every day we are bombarded with human need locally and globally that seems so massive that our capacity to relate and respond becomes impaired. The end result is that we do nothing. Is there is a cure for this Compassion Detachment?
The gospel writer Matthew records an experience in the life of Jesus where his day off was suddenly interrupted by an avalanche of human need. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd， he had compassion on them and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:14). When Jesus arrived at Bethsaida， he was anxious to be alone with his disciples. No one would have blamed him if He has dismissed the crowds. Why didn’t Jesus walk away or tell them to come back tomorrow? Five words: “HE HAD COMPASSION ON THEM.” The Greek word used for “compassion” in this passage comes from a medical term that refers to the study of the internal parts—a study of the gut! When Matthew writes that Jesus had compassion on the people， he is not saying that Jesus felt casual pity for them; the term is far more graphic. Matthew is saying that Jesus felt their hurt in his gut: He felt the limp of the cripple. He felt the hurt of the diseased. He felt the loneliness of the leper. He felt the embarrassment of the sinful. And once he felt their hurts， he couldn’t help but meet their needs!
COMPASSION is the ability to enter actively into the pain of another— to weep when others weep—but it is more than just feeling badly about the condition of another. Compassion moves with the wisdom and ability to correct the problem! Compassion empowers feeling to be turned into ACTION! I began to ask God to break through my numbness and fill me the kind of compassion that Jesus felt. I wanted to “feel it in my gut.” One morning we travelled to an orphanage where 25 children， rescued from the earthquake， were living. A courageous Haitian pastor was walking the streets following the earthquake and was overwhelmed with the number of children who had been orphaned by this catastrophic event.
He could not simply walk by; he “felt it in his gut” and was moved to act. He began to gather them together and prayed for God to provide. Miraculously， a piece of land was given to him from a family member. A donor from the United States funded a building and one of our Haitian Pastors from Montreal has provided further financial aid for food. As I looked into the eyes of these precious children and reflected upon the heroic actions of this young Haitian leader， my numbness began to melt. I was “feeling it in my gut.” I am on a journey to push past my tendency to detach from human suffering and to find simple ways to continue to act. I am asking God to help me keep “feeling it in my gut” so that I am driven to action. Agnes and I decided to provide support to these orphans in Haiti. We are determined to fight Compassion Detachment!
Maybe today you are feeling overwhelmed as you sink into Compassion Detachment. Take a moment and ask God to help you “feel it in your gut，” to move to a whole new level of compassion that drives you to action. Detachment is NOT an option for a child of God.
“Forget yourself and live for others， for it is more blessed to give than to receive.” — A.B. Simpson
Please find the original version in C&MA website