Compassion comes from two words, meaning ‘suffering with’. Compassionate people have a concern for others which is both sensitive and caring. God describes himself as compassionate on many occasions (see Ex 34:6, 2 Kings 13:23, Neh 9:17, Ps 86:5) and because of this, we too can show compassion to others. Paul urges the Ephesians, ‘Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.’ (Eph 4:32) To the Romans, he says, ‘Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.’ (Rom 12:15)
We live in a world of selfishness and scorn, but the way of compassion goes beyond our natural responses to the very heart of God. We have to leave behind our preoccupation with self in order to see the needs of others. Compassion means we do more than see, however. We enter into their needs and come alongside them, even as Simon of Cyrene carried the cross when Jesus was unable to do so. As we come alongside those in need (virtually, at the moment, but it’s still possible) and sit in silence with them in times of suffering and grief, we can bring comfort and hope to all.