Compassion Fatigue

My church recently walked through the Experiencing God as a Church Together series by Henry Blackaby and Melvin Blackaby. This series reminded me that I am not in this Christian race alone.  Though my relationship with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is personal, it is not a private one.  As a Christian, I should have a desire to LOVE others and show COMPASSION toward them. 

As you read my sporadic blog entries, you will notice that I use illustrations from various media (i.e. movies, television, music…).  So….

Veggie Tales:

As I type this, Veggie Tales – Jonah Movie just popped into my mind.  For those of you without young children, you probably have no idea what I am talking about.   So, let me break it down…

Veggie Tales – Jonah Movie is the Veggie Tales version of the story of Jonah and the Ninivites.  In the Veggie Tales version of this story, the Ninivites weren’t very nice and liked to smack people with fishes…YES…According to Veggie Tales, they lied, stole and smacked people with Fishes…including the “Fish of No Return”…OUCH!!!  Getting back to the actual story…

The Ninivites were not very kind to each other or others and were disobedient to God.  God told Jonah to go to the people of Nineveh and to relay his message of Repentance.  As we all know…Jonah attempted to run from God because he did not believe that the Ninevites deserved to receive God’s message.  As we all know…Jonah’s disobedience led to him spending SOME time in the belly of a BIG FISH (FYI – the bible does not say he was in the belly of a whale as we were all taught as children).  As we all know… Jonah eventually was obedient and told the Ninevites to “STOP IT…Stop cheating…Stop lying…And Stop slapping people with fishes or the city will be destroyed…” 

The Ninevites heeded the message from God and changed their ways BUT Jonah did not believe that God would show LOVE and COMPASSION towards the Ninevites.  In fact, he waited outside the city so that he would not miss the display of God’s power as He destroyed the city.  Despite Jonah’s lack of compassion and love towards the Ninevites, God continued to show him MERCY, COMPASSIONLOVE.

The First 48:

If you know me, you know that I LOVE crime shows and investigative type programs.  I guess that’s why I am drawn to legal aspects of matters.  I chose the Human Resource profession and read employment law for fun (YES…I enjoy reading and analyzing employment law).  Anyway…My husband and I have been watching The First 48 on Netflix (ah…yes…Netflix…it’s so lovely).  If you are not familiar with the show, it follows real life homicide investigators during the first 48 hours of their investigation into a murder.  During that time, the investigators are collecting evidence surrounding the crime, looking for leads in order to determine identity of the victim, perpetrator and witnesses.  The common theme that I have noticed throughout each investigation is that…THERE ARE NO WITNESSES…  The murder could happen in broad daylight, on a busy street, with 100 people around…yet NO ONE saw or heard ANYTHING… HOW CAN THAT BE?

“What Would You Do?”:

Another show that my family has recently started watching (not on Netflix) is “What Would You Do?”.  This show creates various scenarios (using actors) and watches the reactions of regular peoples (non-actors).  These scenarios are all caught on hidden camera.  The point of the show is to simple ask “what would you do…” if you were going about your day-to-day business and you come across…an elderly person being harassed by teenagers?..theft?..discriminate behaviors of a business?..teenage bullying?..domestic violence?..child abuse?..someone (ANYONE) in NEED of HELP?

I was shocked to find that in most situations NO ONE stepped in to HELP those in need.  In most situations, NO ONE stepped in to STOP an injustice.  Many would gawk and/or make comments to themselves or others around them about the situation but MOST did NOTHING.  This is concerning to me.  Have we, as a society, become so desensitized that we no longer see and recognize when someone is in need OR we no longer feel that it is our place to HELP?

Where has our LOVE and COMPASSION gone?

Okay…Now that I have gone on a tangent about Jonah and some television shows, let’s get back to our [my] responsibility as a Christian…To show LOVE…To show COMPASSION.

I have frequently heard the term “Compassion Fatigue”.   It is defined as a condition characterized by a gradual lessening of COMPASSION over time.  This condition is found a lot in healthcare workers or caregivers.  It can be exhibited in several symptoms including hopelessness, a decrease in experiences of pleasure, constant stress and anxiety, and a pervasive negative attitude.  “Compassion Fatigue” can have a detrimental effect on individuals, both professionally and personally, including a decrease in productivity, the inability to focus, and the development of new feelings of incompetency and self doubt.

Are you experiencing “Compassion Fatigue”?

Christians are called to LOVE and show COMPASSION.  We are called to be “Care Givers” to the world.  We function in this care giving capacity 24/7.  We are called to HELP those who are hurting or in need (not just physically…but also spiritually).  We are to be the WITNESSES to the world as AMBASSADORS of JESUS CHRIST.  We see and hear about the heart wrenching, emotional situations of others.  We experience some of these situations in our own lives, too.  We are impacted by the media and it’s saturation of decontextualized images and stories of suffering, crime, violence, pain, loss…evidence of SIN.  We see the cynical response and resistance to help others who may be suffering.  We see all of these things…BUT…What are we doing about it?  Have we too become desensitized?

Right now, I am thinking of the people that I see standing on the side of the street everyday asking for HELP.  As I ride in my vehicle to my place of employment and return to my comfortable home where I have all the amenities necessary, these individuals are standing on the side of the street, in the elements, holding a sign asking for someone…anyone…to HELP.  I can count on one hand the number of times that I have actually done so.  As I reflect on this, I realize that I have become desensitized.  I have bought into the skepticism and wonder in which I question the” realness” of the individuals need OR I condemn the individual and say it’s their own fault.  I see situations occur in which I should step in and help but I CHOOSE to gawk and make comments like…”I can’t believe….”  “If that were me…”  SIN is truly a terrible thing.  “Compassion Fatigue” is a result of the sinful world we live in.  In the bible, I don’t ever remember reading that Jesus saw people in NEED but he chose to ignore them or chastise them.  No, Jesus always showed LOVE and COMPASSION to those in need.  If we are reflections of Christ, do our lives show LOVE and COMPASSION to everyone OR just those who look like us, who have educational level and social economic status OR with whom our personalities mesh?

As a Christian, are you experiencing “Compassion Fatigue”?  

Instructions from God’s Word

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink, for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22 

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them…If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.”Luke 6:27-35 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13:34-35

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” —1 John 4:7-21

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2 Comments »

  1. […] Read article here […]

  2. Ms. scott Said:

    Oh I love this. I have definately experienced this!


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