Revive Our Hearts Podcast

An Encounter with Compassion

Watch this series on video here.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Well, it’s a new week and a new day—Monday, May 12—and I’m so thankful that once again Revive Our Hearts is able to share biblical truth with women, truth that really does set us free.

Leslie Basham: Welcome to Revive Our Hearts. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy: I don’t take any day of ministry for granted. Each episode of Revive Our Hearts, five days a week, 260 days a year is available thanks to the support of friends like you. Now, we realize that we are truly dependent on the Lord to provide for this ministry. He’s the One who prompts listeners who give, and then the Lord uses those gifts to provide another new day of ministry.

If you want to continue hearing Revive Our Hearts day by day, you can help make this ministry possible through your financial support.

Now, as we’ve been sharing with you, the month of May is a critical time for our ministry. That’s when we look to complete our fiscal year in the black and to prayerfully plan for the year ahead. We’re asking the Lord to provide $435,000 or more in donations this month to keep us on target as we head into the summer months.

To find out more about this opportunity or to make a donation, please visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com. And if you’ve never given to Revive Our Hearts before, your gift this month will be doubled by some friends of the ministry as part of a special matching challenging. That chance to have your first gift matched is only good during the month of May.

So whether you’re contacting us for the very first time, or perhaps you’ve been supporting the ministry for years, I hope you’ll prayerfully consider responding today. Again, you can make a gift or get more details at ReviveOurHearts.com, or if you’d like to send a check, you can write us at P.O. Box 2000, Niles, MI 49120, or give us a call at 1–800–569–5959.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts for Monday, May 12, 2014.

Nancy: Well, if you’ve been with us the last several days on Revive Our Hearts, you know we’ve been having a guest teacher here with us. She’s recording at our home base here in Southwest Michigan—Erin Davis. Her husband, Jason, is on our staff. He’s our marketing manager.

Erin I’ve known for a number of years. She heads up our Lies Young Women Believe blog, a great resource for teenage gals, and lots of kind of raw, real stuff coming out on that blog. I’m so glad our bloggers like Erin are pointing these gals to the Word of God, to Jesus, and to His truth that can set them free.

So we asked Erin if she would come and do some guest teaching here on Revive Our Hearts. I’m so glad she said "yes." This series has been based on a resource she wrote, a Bible study called Beautiful Encounters. It’s about women who encounter Jesus and how that changed their lives.

It’s really written for teens, but as I’ve looked through it, I think it would be a great study for women of any age—especially if you want to mentor or invest in the life of some young women in your life. This is a great resource, and we’ll tell you at the end of the broadcast how you can get a copy.

Erin, I’m just curious, what got you interested in writing a study on eight character studies, women, who met Jesus?

Erin Davis: Well, I wish I could take the credit for the idea. It was Life Way’s idea. They came to me and said, “We have this idea for a study of New Testament women and their interactions with Jesus.” We had a great day of brainstorming, and these are the women that came out of that.

We felt strongly that we wanted to focus on some lesser-known women instead of maybe just the characters that everybody is familiar with because their stories are so rich. I was really challenged as I was writing about how much each encounter revealed about who Jesus is.

Nancy: Was there a particular one (I’m going to put you on the spot here) that comes to mind that was just a real special study or one that you were just especially blessed by studying?

Erin: Well, the one we’re getting ready to study is the widow of Nain, and I’m not sure that I’d ever paid much attention to her story. It’s kind of a little, tiny blip in the Bible, and maybe that’s why it was so intriguing to me. But it so beautifully puts on display Jesus’ compassion, and I loved that.

Then probably my favorite has to be Mary Magdalene who encounters the risen Jesus, the only one who gets to encounter the risen Jesus. How can you not be blown away by that story? I was glad to be able to revisit the resurrection and think through all that happened in her life, and it challenged me.

Nancy: So that one’s still coming in the series.

Erin: Yes.

Nancy: So be sure and stay tuned for the rest of the series, and if you missed any of the earlier ones, we’ve already looked at five of these women, go to ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can pull up the transcript, listen to the audio, and share this. Even if you’re doing this study, you might want to use these teaching sessions as a part of that.

So here’s my friend Erin Davis to teach us, to take us to the Word, to point us to Jesus, as we look at one other women whose life was transformed by an encounter with Him.

Erin: We’ve been looking at Jesus’ encounters with women in the New Testament and what they reveal about His character. Last time we saw how Jesus’ power was put on display as He rose Jairus’ daughter from the dead.

I just want to revisit that story briefly to set up this next session because we need to pay attention to one specific thing that Jesus said to the mourners who were gathered around that little girl. So we’re going to be in Luke 8:51–56 just briefly for a moment. If you’ll remember, Jairus’ daughter was ill. He went to get Jesus.

While they were on the way to heal her, another woman interrupted Him. Jesus healed her. And then Jairus gets the word that his daughter has died while he was seeking help. Jesus says, “Don’t worry about it. We’re going to go, and I’m going to take care of it.” We pick that up in verse 51.

And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.”

And then He goes on to raise her from the dead.

Now, I’m the only girl in a house with three boys and one husband. I’m fond of saying that I live in a frat house for toddlers because it very much feels that way most of the time. And let me tell you something. I can tell you that from my littlest one to my husband, boys of all ages seem to be very uncomfortable when a woman cries. When I cry, which is pretty often, probably daily, every boy in my house tries to instantly stop the water works.

My sweet Noble, who’s my three-year-old, often tells me that when I cry it makes him sad, too. And he’s just saying, “I don’t like it when you cry, Mommy. It makes me uncomfortable.”

My husband disappears when I cry. Same thing.

Sometimes when we tell other people not to cry, we want them to stop the tears because it makes us feel uncomfortable. And you’ll notice that here Jesus says to the mourners, “Stop crying.” And it’s for a whole different reason.

I loved when I was studying these stories because there are several places in the Bible where Jesus says, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.” He’s not saying that because He’s uncomfortable with their grief. He’s saying it for a whole different and much more wonderful reason.

He cuts the mourners short in Jairus’ story because He knew what He was about to do. He knew that He was going to do something about their grief, but they didn’t know that. To them the situation seemed hopeless. The girl was dead after all. What could He do? He got there too late, and they didn’t know what could happen from that point on that would make them want to stop crying. But Jesus knew better.

When He told them to stop crying, He wasn’t saying, “Suck it up.” He wasn’t saying, “Put on a smiley face and act like everything’s okay.” This is not a parent’s word through gritted teeth in the middle of the toy section at Walmart—“Stop crying!” You know that one. Right? That’s not what Jesus meant when He said, “Stop crying.”

He’s letting them know that hope was coming to a situation that seemed hopeless. They could stop crying because she was going to not be dead in just a few minutes. Of course, they didn’t know all that, but soon they did. And He was moved with compassion for this girl, this twelve-year-old girl, and the people who loved her.

That’s the character of God we’re going to see put on display in today’s session—it’s compassion. Jesus is a compassionate God, and we see Him demonstrate compassion many, many, many, many, many, many times in the Gospels. But I think this story, the widow of Nain, is such a sweet example of His compassion.

And, again, He’s going to come on to a scene that seems hopeless. He’s going to come on to a scene where people are grieved as if it is hopeless. And, again, He’s going to say, “Stop crying,” and He’s going to do something about it.

So let’s look at Luke 7:11–17. It starts with “Soon afterward,” and the afterward is referring to Jesus’ healing of the Centurion servant. You may be familiar with that story. But it’s just like in the last session where we see somebody here who has power and authority and is desperately needy.

Now we’re going to meet a woman here who is the opposite of power and authority. She has no power. She has no means. She can’t do anything for herself, and she’s needy.

Again, He goes from healing the Centurion servant, the Centurion having power and authority, to this situation. So that’s why it says, “Soon afterward.” I think it’s such a good reminder that none of us can earn His healing or His compassion, and none of us deserve it more than anybody else. It’s something He gives because it’s who He is. It’s not something He gives because we deserve it.

So let’s go back to verse 11:

Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her.
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her [there it is!], “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.””

So there’s no doubt that this situation is hopeless. Let’s think about the woman’s circumstances for just a moment. She’s certainly grieved by the death of her son, the kind of pain I hope I’ll never experience and just can’t even imagine. But the situation was a lot more desperate than just a woman who was burying her son.

The Bible tells us this is her only son, and it also tells us that she is a widow. So at some time, previous to this, she lost her husband, and now she’s losing her son. This is a worst case scenario. This is the kind of stuff that wakes you up in the middle of the night that you hope will never happen to you, and it’s happening to her.

She had no husband, so the responsibility for her financial and physical needs would then be transferred to her son, and now she’s burying her son. Not only did she have the gut-wrenching loss of two men that she loved to deal with, but she’d been left financially destitute. The situation was as hopeless as it gets.

You have to wonder why such a large crowd would gather around this woman as she grieves that day. It might have been the car-accident phenomenon. You know, we see something tragic and horrible, and for some reason we all just can’t seem to look away.

My parents’ home was hit by a tornado several years ago, and we literally had to barricade the driveway after the first day because people we didn’t even know were so drawn to the scene of what had happened that we had to say, “Okay, our house has been ripped apart. You can’t come here.”

I think about that. I probably would also be drawn to this situation where this woman’s situation is just so horrific. But I’m thankful that Jesus was so much more than a gawker in this crowd. He was moved to action. He didn’t just join the crowd by looking and saying, “Oh, isn’t this horrible? Isn’t this horrible?” He was moved to do something about it.

So, Luke 7:13–17:

And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.”

That word describes the plank that was used, kind of as an open coffin. It’s worth noting here that Jesus was unconcerned about ceremonial uncleanliness—and certainly touching a dead body would make Him ceremonial unclean. But He cares so much more about us. So He is compassionate. It’s who He is. He will show compassion toward me. He will show compassion toward you. Not because I’ve earned it or deserve it, but because He is a compassionate God.

So He comes up, and He touches this kind of open casket, and the bearers stand still, the verse says. There are so many people in the Bible whose stories I would just love to know. I would love to talk to them about it, and the pall bearers in this story would be among them.

They see Jesus walk up to a dead body, maybe they recognize Him, maybe they don’t. I don’t know. But either way they know to freeze and stop dead in their tracks while they’re still holding the casket. And He says, “Young man, I say to you, ‘Arise.’”

Now, we have the benefit of knowing Scripture and knowing about the resurrection, so we’ve become strangely familiar with Jesus raising people from the dead. But that’s not their situation.

Imagine this: Jesus walks up to a corpse and starts talking to him, and then it gets really weird because in verse 15, the corpse talks back. “And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”

I believe this is one of the most tender moments of compassion in all of the Bible. “And Jesus gave him back to his mother.” That’s not what He asked Lazarus to do when He raised Lazarus from the dead. He said, “Lazarus, walk out.” And that’s what Lazarus did. But instead He gives the boy—and I don’t care how old this man was, he was still his mama’s boy—He gives the boy back to his mama.

It was a huge crowd of people. Remember, it was a merger of two crowds. It was a merger of the crowd that was already following Jesus and then a merger of this crowd that had come to the funeral. So these two huge crowds merge, and in that sea of people, his mama was the one who needed him most.

So Jesus walks up to this dead man, and He says, “Arise.” And the man sits up and starts talking. And Jesus takes him, and He gives him to his mama. That’s compassion. That’s who Jesus is.

Yes, Jesus’ power was put on display in this encounter, but even more than that, the widow of Nain had an encounter with Jesus’ compassion. He showed great compassion to her in that moment.

What is compassion? I would define compassion as simply: Love in action. It’s doing something about your love. And certainly Jesus loved this widow, loved her son. So He didn’t just stand back with the crowds, watch, and then go, “Oh, I wish I could do something about that.” He was moved to action.

I myself am a compassionate baker. When somebody’s hurting, I’m very likely to drop off cinnamon rolls. It may not help them at all, but I feel like at least I’m doing something. I think cinnamon rolls help just about every situation that exists. A lot of times cinnamon rolls is not really what they need. That certainly would not be what this mama would have needed. She needed what only Jesus could do, which was to bring her son back to life.

But so often we offer each other sympathy—a little pat on the back, a little card. That’s retreating to the safe zone like I was talking about in the session with Martha. But that’s not compassion. That’s just sympathy.

And I think a lot of times when people are hurting, we don’t know what to do, and so we don’t do much. But compassion says, “I don’t know what to do, but I’m going to do something.” So that’s what Jesus demonstrates here when He’s putting love in action.

We can be so thankful that Jesus puts His love in action in our lives in much bigger ways. Jesus was moved by the tears of the widow of Nain just like He was moved by the tears of Mary and Martha. And don’t you love in Scripture when Jesus is moved? Don’t you love the hope that we can move Him, we can affect Him with what’s going on in our lives, with our prayers, with our needs? That’s what we see in Scripture.

So it was with compassion that He stepped into her moment of grief and spoke words of life into her situation. “Get up.” And then He handed that boy to his mama.

I love how Psalm 56:8 describes the Lord’s compassion toward us: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”

God sees our tears and is moved with compassion by our pain. I’m very comforted by the image that He collects my tears in a bottle. I would need a very big bottle. I’m a crier. It’s okay. But that’s the image that Scripture gives us. He sees you, and He’s collecting those tears in a bottle, and He writes it all in His book.

Jesus could say to us, “Don’t cry.” Just like He did to the mourners in both of these stories. And when Jesus says to us, “Don’t cry,” He’s not saying, “You’re weirding Me out. I’m uncomfortable with your grief.” He’s not saying, “Suck it up. Act like a big girl.” He doesn’t ask us to pretend like everything is okay, but He has a plan to heal what is broken. I take such comfort in that.

Revelation 21:4 says, “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

He can say to us, “Don’t cry,” because the day is coming when all will be set right.

I don’t know what He’s going to do with that giant bottle of tears He’s been collecting all my life, but maybe He’s collecting them so I can watch Him dump them out, and so He can say, “No more. I’m going to wipe away every tear from your eyes, baby girl. I’m going to take care of it.” That’s the promise He makes in Revelation 21.

In any case, He sees our pain, and He has a plan to set things right. And that’s so comforting. He is a compassionate God, and He wants to be moved to action for the things that grieve us.

Now, this widow’s story has a happy ending, but I want us to consider when something or someone we love has to stay buried, and sometimes that’s the reality. On the day this mama saw her son brought back to life, it’s likely that another mama saw her son go into the grave.

On the day that Jairus saw his twelve-year-old resurrected from the dead, it’s likely that another daddy saw his twelve-year-old die and stay dead. And that doesn’t seem fair. Where is the compassionate God in that situation?

Jesus promises that a time is coming when He will wipe away all of our tears, but He does not promise to take away everything that causes us pain right now, and that is a hard truth. It can be especially hard when we have to bury something, as in give it up forever.

And it doesn’t have to be just burying a person. It can be burying a dream or burying a situation that you thought would get fixed and it never did or burying a relationship or burying a hope you had for your children or burying anything that you have to put into the ground and go, “It’s dead. It’s buried.”

When we’re standing at the casket of something that we have to bury, we go, “Where’s Your compassion now, Jesus? Why are You not moved to action in this situation?” But the bottom line is: He’s compassionate. That’s why you have to know who He is because you have to know that whether I feel like it or not, He is compassionate. Whether I feel like it or not, He is God. Whether I feel like it or not, He’s being a true friend to me in this situation.

So when you’re standing at the casket of something you have to bury, it’s good to be reminded that God is compassionate. The fact that He chose not to raise a person or relationship or an opportunity from the dead is not evidence that He is not a compassionate God.

You have no idea how He is going to be moved to action in your situation next week, next month, next year, next decade. You have no idea how He’s going to put His love for you into action down the road. So you can’t make a judgment of whether or not He’s a compassionate God just because you stand at the casket of something that you love.

In those moments when something we love must stay buried, we can cling to James 5:11, which says:

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

Isn’t it interesting that Job is the example used here for God’s compassion? Let me remind you what happened to Job. His children died. His livestock died. His body was covered in boils. His friends were not friends at all. His wife told him to curse God and die. And yet, he’s the example that Scripture uses for the fact that God is a compassionate God because burying some things was not the totality of Job’s story. God was moved to put love into action in Job’s life as the story was being written.

So I’ll read it again: “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”

He is compassionate. It is who He is. It is who He always will be. He will always demonstrate love in action toward us. So how should we respond?

Let’s go back to the widow’s story, Luke 7:16–17. He’s just raised the man from the dead, and He’s given him to his mother. And then we read this:

Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Compassion was infectious. The people who witnessed it couldn’t stop talking about it. I hope they also lived it. In our culture we like to call this “paying it forward.” Someone chose love in action toward you, so you show love in action toward others. Now, we can’t love people to the degree of compassion that the Lord shows toward us, but we sure ought to try.

I mean, He shows compassion to us. We’re not just supposed to hold on to that and think, God was so good to me. Yay! We’re supposed to look for opportunities to put love in action toward others who need compassion. And let me tell you, if you think about it, you can come up with a long list of people in your life right now who are desperately in need of compassion. That is the response we are called to have in light of the fact that Jesus is a compassionate God.

I want to end this session with a charge out of Colossians 3:12, which says:

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Here’s an Erin Davis paraphrase: “God has shown great compassion toward you; put love in action toward others.”

Nancy: And what a great word about the compassion of God. You know, that word compassion comes from two words: come and passion. That means “to suffer with.” God suffers with us. Jesus Christ took on our suffering and pain. That’s His compassion. “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” so He could suffer with us, actually, in our place, so that we could be raised back to life.

As we read this story and all of these gospel accounts of the miracles and Jesus’ teaching, and these amazing things He did, it’s all supposed to point us to the gospel, why He came.

Erin, as you were talking, I couldn’t help thinking about that passage in Ephesians 2, because we may wonder, or you may wonder: Has God been compassionate to me? Especially if you have had to bury someone or something that you hold so dear.

I think about standing at the grave of my twenty-two-year-old brother years ago who was killed in a car accident. He didn’t come back to life in that moment. He will someday. But you think: Was God compassionate?

I’m so glad you raised those questions, Erin, and the answer is: Yes! He has had compassion on us.

Listen to what Ephesians 2 says: “You were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked.” (We had no life. We were hopeless. We were separated from God.) “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”

So this miracle of showing the compassionate heart of God, not just toward some widow in some little town we never heard of before, but toward us. That’s the amazing mercy and grace of God. I’m glad you took us to the end of that passage, Erin, because I love that. It says they glorified God, and they said, “God has visited His people.”

You know, every painful or difficult circumstance you face, every painful or difficult circumstance I face is a means through which God wants to glorify Himself. He wants people to be able to look at our lives as we walk through those hard things.

I talked with a mom here today who’s going through some really, really painful things in her family. We stood there, and she cried, and we prayed. But that circumstance, as impossible as it seems right now, as hopeless as it seems right now, when she and others look back on it, they’re going to be able to say, “God has visited His people. God has been here. God is real. God has had compassion on us. He has taken our pain and suffering as His own.”

And then we see the end of the story that He will one day wipe, dry all those tears and give us unending joy. So don’t stop short of the end of the story. I’m so glad you brought that out, Erin, because if you just looked at the here and now, you’d think, How could a compassionate God do . . . And that’s what a lot of people in this world are saying. That’s why our lives need to demonstrate that His compassions are new and fresh every morning, great is His faithfulness.

I love how we can look at these stories in Scripture—and they’re not just stories. They’re truth, and they’re a means of God revealing His heart to us. Erin, I’m so glad that you’ve written this book about these women who encountered Jesus and how God’s presence in their lives changed everything.

The book is called Beautiful Encounters, and it’s a study. It’s really intended for teenagers, but we’re teens and grown women in this room today all being blessed by these stories. So if you’d like to get a copy of that study to do yourself or with girls in your family or with some girlfriends, we’ll be glad to send you a copy as our gift from Revive Our Hearts if you just send a donation of any amount to help support this ministry, which is all about getting people to know the compassion of Jesus and His amazing love.

So let us know that you’d like to send a gift, and then we’ll send you a copy of this book. You can call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can go online to ReviveOurHearts.com. Let us know you’d like to make a gift, and be sure and let us know you’d like Erin’s book, “Beautiful Encounters.”

If you want to order more copies of that to share with some young women or older women in a study together, go to our resource center at ReviveOurHearts.com, and you can order more of those there.

O Lord, how we thank You for Your amazing mercy and kindness to us through Christ Jesus. Thank You that You weep with those who weep, and then there’s a time when You tell us, “Stop weeping because I’m here to redeem your situation, to redeem your life from destruction.”

We just know that mama’s life was never the same again, and our lives will never be the same again because You have encountered us. You raised us from our spiritual death, from our separation from You. You made us alive in Christ.

And now I pray You’d use us as instruments of compassion to reach out and touch lives of others around us who are hurting so that people can see and they can say, “Surely God has visited His people.”

We pray it in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss and our guest teacher Erin Davis have been talking today about the compassion of Jesus.

You have a couple of other opportunities to interact with Erin and today’s teaching. She’ll be part of the Revive Our Hearts listener blog. Just scroll to the end of the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com, and leave your comment or question for Erin. She’ll be answering as many as she can, and you can see the video version of today’s teaching at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, what do you know about the biblical character of Salomé? Tomorrow Erin will weave the strands of her biblical story together to show us a powerful picture of pride and humility. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version.

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