Recently I heard from a client who was sick, lonely, and discouraged. In fact, she has been chronically ill for years, but the past few months have taken the cake, so to speak. She has a wonderfully supportive , godly husband, loving family, and loving church family. But the plain truth is, even with all of the above, being chronically ill gets very lonely. The Son of Man is perfectly able to understand our weaknesses. Matthew 25:31-46 illustrate His compassionate understanding of situations of human vulnerability and how TRUE saints respond.
In fact, Christ goes so far as to warn His listeners, then and now, that those who blindly ignore the needs of the poor, the prisoner, and the ill will be separated from the sheep in the “last day”. Compassion and mercy may be the special gift of some saints, but all are required to practice these virtues. Some are truly in the position to always have to be on the receiving end of charity when they would rather not be. I think of saints in other countries, especially, who suffer persecution for their faith, famine, etc… Even so, just being sick qualifies one for acts of mercy and compassion. Please don’t forget your chronically ill friend.
As Matthew Henry so succinctly expresses, “He will take the kindness done to them, as done to Himself…which shows a respect to the poor that were relieved, as well as to the rich that did relieve them. Note, Christ espouses his people’s cause, and reckons himself received, and loved, and owned in them. If Christ himself were among us, how readily would we relieve him?”
My friend and client’s discouragement blew a little spark into a flame today. When I struggle with loneliness and discouragement, I will keep looking out for those around me who need a special word of encouragement. Even a “visit” of an e-mail or card can lift someone’s spirit’s heavenward for that moment. My little pile of saved cards from caring friends is stored in a special place. Even without the finances to fund generous mercy, I have the ability to practice this Christ-like virtue. My Savior also takes note, and remembers every caring visit and loving word and work. How great is His condescension to us! All His sheep are recipients of amazing, undeserved mercy and compassion.