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How should we
respond to the suffering of others?
Everyone suffers. There is no exception. How, then, should we respond to the suffering of others? The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-36 NJB) challenges us to face up to the suffering of others. The parable relates how a man was set on by thieves, was wounded and was left half dead on the road to Jericho. He was suffering and in pain on the lonely road but a priest saw the man and passed by on the other side. Similarly a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side. One is indifferent and apathetic to the suffering of the man, the other is curious but is also unmoved by the suffering and misfortune of the man. But a Samaritan saw the man and was moved with compassion for him, bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them. He then lifted him onto his own mount and took him to an inn and looked after him. The Samaritan spent time and money to take care of the suffering man. But do we spend time when our spouses, children, relatives, friends, or a person needed our attention? Do we say it is none of our concern when someone needs help? Are we treating our subordinates with human decency and human dignity or do we abuse our position and blast away whenever we are angry? Are we moved by the misfortune of others? Are we moved to serve? Do we empathize with those who suffer? Or do we just look after our own self-interest? Do we let the opportunity pass when a situation arise for us to help someone? Are we so self-centered that we do not have the time for a fellow human being in pain? Isnt there risk, if we are concerned? Yes, for who can save a child from a burning house without taking the risk of being hurt by the flames? Or who can listen to tales of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains and risk his own peace of mind? But, Jesus shows us that we are not allowed to indifferently pass by on the other side, and only consider our own affair. We must be moved to take action and give some help to the suffering of others. We have to be patient, be kind, be generous, be compassionate, be gentle, be courteous or be sincere to show our love in our dealing with others.
Jesus reminds us how essential it is to have compassion for the suffering of others and to give help as the Good Samaritan did. He even tells us beforehand that whatever help we give to others, we do it to Him; I was hungry and you fed Me, thirsty and you gave Me a drink. I was a stranger and you received Me in your homes, naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you took care of Me, in prison and you visited Me. The righteous will then answer Him, When, Lord, did we ever see You hungry and fed You, or thirsty and give You a drink? When did we ever see You a stranger and welcome You into our homes, or naked and clothe You? When did we ever see You sick or in prison, and visit You? The King will reply, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of Mine, you did it for Me! (Matthew 25:35-40 TEV) He Himself is present in the suffering person. He Himself is the One who receives the help and He acknowledges ahead that, you did it for Me.
So, if we want to be used by God, if we want to be fully qualified and equipped to do every kind of good deed (2 Timothy 3:17 TEV), we will have to travel the road of suffering at some point in our life. For how can anyone lead others out of the desert if he has never been there? St Paul tells us that; God helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God. Just as we have a share in Christs many sufferings, so also through Christ we share in Gods great help.(2 Corinthians 1:4-5 TEV) (God) comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.(2 Corinthians 1:4-5 NIV) He supports us in every hardship, so that we are able to come to the support of others, in every hardship of theirs because of the encouragement that we ourselves receive from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow into our lives; so too does the encouragement we receive through Christ. (2 Corinthians 1:4-5 NJB)
As Christians, we have been helped, comforted and supported by Jesus in our suffering. We are, therefore, challenged to make visible Jesus love for all suffering humanity, by helping, supporting, comforting and being patiently present to all suffering individuals who come by our way. Indeed, we need to be saints to one another, to give one another comfort, consolation, courage and strength to move on in life and not be locked in the prison of our past suffering, trial, pain and/or hardship.
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