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Lessons in true compassion

From the October 2019 issue of The Christian Science Journal

A couple of years ago, I felt the need to explore the meaning of compassion more deeply. I’d been feeling exhausted by the constant push and pull of the political situation in the world. I noticed how easily I felt overcome by deep emotions when reading the news—a great sense of sadness and heaviness regarding those suffering from injustices and other heart-wrenching issues. I thought I was being compassionate by feeling this way, but it didn’t seem to be yielding much comfort and didn’t feel like a contribution to healing. Another feeling that also arose was a sense of judgment and resentment toward those who I felt lacked compassion. I knew there had to be a healing response to what I was experiencing, so I decided to look to the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy for fresh inspiration.

While reading about the children of Israel in the book of Exodus and their long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, I found it surprising how often the Israelites would doubt God’s power and care for them. What was even more surprising, albeit comforting, was how God never left their side. Time after time, despite all the doubt and complaints from the Israelites, God demonstrated His great patience and love by providing for them and protecting them from harm. My heart warmed even more when I found this passage in Psalms: “But he [God], being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity” (78:38). 

I wanted to understand more of that compassion that loves and forgives. Through my study of Christian Science I’d had the opportunity to feel God’s all-embracing and constant love for me, so it made sense that God, who is Love itself, would be full of tender, pure love for all His children. Love had guided the Israelites, provided them food in the desert, and forgiven their trespasses as they turned more Godward. It was because of God’s unwavering, patient love that the children of Israel did eventually come to obey, trust, and love God’s guidance. I concluded that I, too, in my true identity as a complete and perfect idea of God, could express this pure and forgiving love toward everyone around me. I could have no traits of unloving judgment, self-righteousness, or ill will, because they are not qualities of God. Of course, if this was true about me, in reality it had to be true about everyone else. 

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