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When Compassion Is Needed

From the August 1975 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Independence and self-reliance are qualities we acclaim and foster in ourselves and others. When we see our friends expressing steadfast adherence to divine Principle and the determination to depend only on God for help in times of trouble, we admire them.

But there are occasions when the manifestation of these sturdy qualities may seem to us to cross the boundary of praiseworthiness. We may begin to think of invalids who strongly identify with these qualities as obstinate, stubborn, and ungracious in their refusal of aid when it is offered. To those who are close to them and love them they may even seem cruel when they insist on taking what look like risks instead of precautions, and prefer to struggle and suffer in doing things for themselves rather than accept help. Such a stance can give much anxiety to friends, indicating there are lessons to be learned on both sides.

It takes deep wisdom and mutual compassion to know when and how to offer help to people who have a human need, and on the other hand, when and how to accept proffered aid if one seems to require it. We need spiritual insight to determine whether the giving and receiving of assistance should be interpreted as proof of divine Love's ability to reach suffering humanity and meet the need—if so, it is a gift of grace that one should gladly accept. Or whether it should be seen as a temptation to resort to means other than total reliance on God, Spirit, for alleviating a difficult situation—means that might, in the long run, delay the healing operation of divine Principle.