What does it mean to live in the world with a truly compassionate heart, a heart that remains open to all people at all times? It is very important to realize the compassion is more than sympathy or empathy.
When we are asked to listen to the pains of people, and empathize with their suffering, we soon reach our emotional limits. We can listen only for a short time and only to a few people.
In our society we are bombarded with so much “news” about human misery that our hearts easily get numbed simply because of the overload. But God’s compassionate heart does not have limits. God’s heart is greater, infinitely greater, than the human heart.
It is that divine heart that God wants to give to us so that we can love all people without burning out or becoming numb.Henri J.M. Nouwen, “Here and Now”
On a babysitting job as a teenager, I picked up “Introduction to the Devout Life” from a bookshelf to read. I read for a bit and put it back. When Francis de Sales talked about a devout life, he REALLY meant a DEVOUT life.
Nonetheless, he has become one of my favorite spiritual teachers. In honor of him today, here are a few of my favorite lessons:
“Anxiety is the greatest evil that can befall a soul, except sin. God commands you to pray, but He forbids you to worry.”
“Have patience with all things, but, first of all, with yourself.”
“Do not fear the changes of life. God, whose very own you are, will deliver you out of them all. He has kept you hitherto and he will lead you safely through all things. And when you cannot stand it, God will bury you in His arms. Do not be afraid of what will happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you then and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace and put aside anxious thoughts and imaginations.”
“Perfect obedience would be perfect happiness if only we had perfect confidence in the power we are obeying.”Hannah Whitall Smith, “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life”