Remember Winnie the Pooh and his friend Eeyore? One day Pooh Bear was walking along the riverbank and noticed that Eeyore, his stuffed donkey friend, was floating downstream on his back and obviously troubled about the possibility that he might drown. So Pooh asked Eeyore if he had fallen in. Eeyore, trying to appear to be in complete control simply said, “Silly of me, wasn’t it?” Apparently Pooh felt that this was the time for a little advice so he recommended to his friend that he be more careful next time. It was then that Pooh looked with a little further concern and noticed that his friend might actually be sinking, but it still did not move him to action. Finally, in desperation, Eeyore actually asked Pooh to rescue him, which, of course, Pooh gladly did. Still, in his nonchalant way of living, Pooh said, “Next time ask me a little sooner”. You might conclude that while Pooh in this particular story had sincere sympathy and concern, he did not have compassion.
While compassion is really a noun, it also implies the willingness to act – to actually “be compassionate”. When Mark expressed the reason that Jesus healed the demon-possessed man, he said that it was because of His compassion. When he described the scene on the hillside where the hungry crowds had gathered, He told the readers that it was Jesus’ heartfelt compassion that caused Him to perform an amazing miracle so that everyone could have something to eat. Jesus might have felt pity, and sometimes sorrow, for the people He met. However, He never stopped there. He always reached out in mercy and compassion, didn’t He? He continuously demonstrated for His followers what it looks like to serve, to love and to have mercy.
Why is it that, just like our imaginary friend, Winnie the Pooh, we are so prone to politely and even sympathetically watch a struggling friend, when actually we could really do something to help them or even rescue them? No one is asking us to solve the world’s problems but getting out of our easy chair to show compassion to someone today might be worth considering.