Compassion Fatigue

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:28-31

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. – Galatians 6:9-10

20170829-DSC07196

This view might be familiar to some. It is the administration center building of the St. John Church campus. It has looked much like this for 15 months, and was scheduled to have been under renovations at the time of TS Harvey. God’s providence prevented the start of renovation work, however, so we don’t have to start all over – a silver lining to the many dark clouds of the storm. August 2017

It’s really quite too early to talk about compassion fatigue. That’s the phenomenon that occurs in the hearts of people who, upon seeing one catastrophe after another, hearing one appeal after another, or being asked one day after another for help, just run out of compassion. Perhaps the most common sort is that which we experience when we see the TV ads featuring starving children with swollen bellies, flies crawling on their faces, and vacant looks in their eyes. After a while we feel so guilty that we just tune it out; they become just pixels on the screen.

So let me offer myself some preemptive compassion fatigue antidotes. I have a feeling I’m going to need them! Here’s my reminder to myself…

  • Don’t turn off the heart and mind just because you can’t take another minute of TV coverage or listen to another newscast, or read another Facebook post. Do not harden your heart; let God’s mercy, love and grace sustain you and keep your heart open to the needs of others!
  • Pray. Really pray. Say the words. Get down on your knees. Use the Psalms. Read your prayer book. Sing hymns and spiritual songs. Let your heart be softened and sustained by God’s mercies which are new every morning, and which are accessed by means of God’s word and prayer.
  • Do what you can. This is for me. I have some physical limitations – even though I don’t want to admit it. I can’t muck out houses or haul out sheet rock. But I can help with some hands-on efforts. I can help carry out trash. I can offer food and water to those who are helping. I can do something. So – and I’m preaching to myself here – do what you can. Listen. Pray. Do something…in Jesus’ name.
  • Remember the good news: God does not grow weary. God’s compassion and mercies are new every morning. Great is his faithfulness. Lean into God. Trust him. Learn from him. Rely on the Holy Spirit. Thank God for Jesus’ redemption. Rejoice in your loving Father.
  • Take it one day at a time. This is my challenge: I look down the road at all that will be necessary to do all that needs to be done, and it overwhelms me. I’m guessing that may be true of others as well. If that’s the case, perhaps (?!?) Jesus’ words are most apropos…

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. –Matthew 6:33-34

4 comments
  1. Thank you for this REALLY sound advice! When I am overwhelmed, productivity reaches all-time lows. I expect I’m not alone in this. Things like making small decisions, preparing a simple meal, doing every day tasks move off the radar of the possible and into the oblivion of fruitlessness. This doesn’t sound like God being in charge at all! He is not the author of confusion. Thank you for the refocus – glad you shared your need for it along with God’s solutions, especially with so much need arising around us in the wake of this very real storm. We have yet another chance to be Jesus’ hands and feet. It could require of us an uncharacteristic step-out in faith, which is a good reminder for me!

  2. cmay1228 said:

    Wow. I needed to hear that today. Thanks

    In His Service,
    Celeste

    • We preach best what we need most. Just saying…

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