Week 39 God’s Loving Compassion

By Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell (Guest Blogger)

Scripture Readings: Psalms 114-116

Key Scripture Verses: Psalm 116:1, 5-6 (NIV, Life Application Bible)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.”

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.”

Psalm 116 is a psalm of worship, praise, and thanksgiving. The psalmist is unknown, but it is clear that when he was in dire need and nearing death, God rescued him with mercy and compassion.

When I was a teen, one of my close friends was talking about her future plans as we were thinking about college and vocational pursuits and she said, “I’ve always wanted to help people—I want to help the mentally retarded.” When she told me that, I remember thinking how altruistic she was and I thought that perhaps I was just not as loving and kind as that, that perhaps I did not have the level of love and compassion for others as my friend did. It hadn’t been my thought to do that or anything similar. I remember asking myself if I was maybe somewhat selfish that I didn’t think to pursue such a noble and compassionate path.

My learning about compassion started at home. My father was a physician and a compassionate person and my mother was a Christian woman who also had some compassion for others less fortunate. I remember my mother giving to certain charities and frequently said she specifically wanted to give donations in money and discards that were in good condition to the Good Will Industries. She would say that they were a good organization and “they really help people.” When my father was dying with cancer and I was trying to help him sell his medical practice, he was more concerned that a good person and a skilled physician take over his practice than he cared about making a good business deal—“I need someone who can take good care of my patients,” he told me. I was learning about compassion and caring for others all along, even if I didn’t think my life’s vocation was to be a helper in the same way as my friend.

But life takes on lots of twists and turns, doesn’t it? As it turned out, I pursued a degree in French and later became a medical Speech-Language Pathologist. Many, many times in the hospital or rehabilitation settings I have worked with people with physical and mental disabilities–God has developed my compassion for them. I have seen some real suffering, chronic physical suffering, and I’ve seen plenty of emotional and spiritual suffering. And there have been times when only God’s love and compassion could heal those people. I’ve shed tears behind closed doors for patients for whom the medical professionals were only able to help but so much. And I’ve prayed for them.

Throughout my Christian life, I have been learning about compassion. I have learned much from my reading of the scriptures of how Jesus was moved by compassion and love for people and would heal them on the spot. And how his disciples did the same. Jesus had the compassion of God the Father—the same compassion that this psalmist received when he was facing certain death and God was there for him.

As healthcare changes daily and billing, coding, reimbursement are all the focus, I wonder if we’ve left compassion out of care. Health care workers are being pushed more and more to get the codes right and to do the paperwork right that they spend more time documenting than caring for patients. I have to ask myself what would have happened if Jesus had to stop and ask what code he would have to put that to when he healed somebody. Let’s see—Lazarus—resurrection from the dead—is there a code for that? Healing a blind man—that’s a little more straightforward. What about a spontaneous healing when a woman with a bleeding disorder touches my cloak?—how is that coded?

I wish healthcare was not so much about the reimbursement as about the care, compassion, and healing. I believe that God does the healing—we are just helpers to his cause. I believe that we learn compassion from God. If our parents learned compassion from God and passed it on to us and through God we also learned to be compassionate through their love, all the better.

Compassion comes from God. In our darkest hours God is with us. His love and compassion are healing powers.

May we be receptive to his word, so that we can be receptive to others in need.

God have mercy upon us!

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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