So, I have known most of my life that I lack a lot of compassion for stupid people who bring things on themselves. And, when I say I lacked compassion, my first response was to say "see, you're an idiot.."
And then, I went to Africa for Thanksgiving last year. While the trip was not my first mission trip, locally, abroad.. or even to Africa. I knew what to expect, I knew what food to avoid, what smells I would encounter, what to pack, and I knew how to go with whatever was thrown at me... Then Jesus threw me a curveball and I was not prepared... HE Himself intervened and touched my heart. haha... weird that of all things, I had not prepared for that. I mean I prayed for it, seriously prayed for weeks upon weeks that I would see His face. And then, I did and was changed. I did not see it in a child, in the people I met, in the voices I heard, in anything I could attribute it to except Jesus wanted to tell me something, He wanted to share with me things that I did not understand.
I saw what He sees, and I was changed.
Since then, my compassion (or mercy as some call it) has been totally different. I still (and probably will forever) have a bit of the "you brought this on yourself" attitude in certain situations... But, it is not even close to my first response. In fact, it is probably not even the first couple thoughts when presented with a situation where the person did in fact bring whatever consequence they are experiencing on themselves........
So, what do I think now?
Now I hurt for them. Mostly I hurt because they are hurting and broken, and while some know it, far to many have no idea. That breaks my heart. Now, instead of seeing their actions and focusing on that, I have begun to see and focus on the why behind the action. The whole reason they are doing certain things, and the reason they are unable to see the greater meaning behind it all. I have also begun to really realize I can see it in their eyes.. almost without fail. Interestingly enough, even when they are smiling and laughing often I can pick up that something is off.
Once (probably more than once though) one of my very wise friends pointed out to another friend, that it would be a mistake to confuse the fact that just because someone does not react to what is observed, that they did not ever observe it in the first place.
So, right now my heart hurts for those people who are hurting. Jesus is the only thing that can fix their problems. I am powerless. My role to play is simply to be me, to be in their lives, consistent, encouraging, loving, praying, whatever God asks me to do... But ultimately I am not the one who is going to fix anything, I am playing a minor role. And, I am ok with that.