Where do you go when you’re facing your hardest times?
I’ve been noticing a trend lately: when people are in a difficult trial, compassion and truth are often pitted against one another. Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too, depicted in media and hinted at in well-meant advice. Either we sympathize with with a hurting person, or we preach truth at them as if we’ve never felt a pain ourselves.
What choice do we have for hard times? Compassion and love or sterile, heartless truth are the options they give us. Which one do you want?
This choice we’re apparently forced into frustrates me badly. Are truth and compassion choices to take or leave: options, but you can only choose one? How can we do without both?
I love that the Apostle Paul said “weep with those who weep.” Paul understood sympathy and compassion much better than the large majority of the world. I believe he was a master of compassion because of the huge quantity of trials he experienced. Paul would have no problem weeping alongside a hurting soul because he understood pain so deeply. This is what people naturally want in their hard times.
But you will also find Paul and the other Apostles speaking truth- particularly in the moments where even Christian society sometimes nearly labels truth as off-limits. When an individual was being persecuted for Christ, the Apostles spoke truth to them. When death visited a family, the Apostles wrote encouragement through the truth. Is someone tempted to turn from Christ? The truth written by the Apostles is urgently needed. Are you despairing of life itself? So did Paul, and he realized then that what he needed was truth. (2 Cor. 1:9)
Does truth seem hard and cold to you especially in the moments of utter pain? What good is the Bible if it cannot encompass your pain, if it’s truth is too lofty for the moments when your heart is breaking?
What if, after Adam and Eve sinned, God had not promised a Savior while giving the curses? That promise based on the foreknowledge of God was truth. It was also compassion to the highest degree. Imagine if, in that darkest moment for humankind, we had been left without a promised Savior. What if God had only looked sympathetically at Adam and Eve and told them he was sorry their lives would be painful. Every life would be drastically different; yet, so often, this is what people suppose they want: sympathy but not truth.
Are you facing difficulties you cannot make sense of? These are moments when you desperately need truth. Run to it. God’s truth is not sterile and heartless; it is compassionate and comforting. The truth of Scripture is laced with love- fountains of life flowing from a God who understands pain, sorrow, and longing far more deeply than a finite human ever can. Truth is what God expects His children will believe, appreciate, and rely on during their hardest times.