Compassion Fatigue?


Matt. 14: 13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.


The masses of crowds continued to follow Jesus and he was tired and worn out. He simply wanted to get some rest and yet, the needs just never went away. He would have to excuse himself from time to time to go off by himself and rest and spend time in prayer. No sooner would he find that space, then people would follow him.

His disciples were probably tempted to send the people away, but not Jesus. Jesus “had compassion for them” and continued reaching out and ministering to them. As overwhelming as it all seemed, he never gave up and he continued to utilize the disciples to minister to the peoples’ needs. The disciples became living and active participants in the compassionate and miracle working hand of God, intervening in the midst of human disaster.


Tornados and earthquakes. These are todays’ headlines. The disaster in Nepal seems almost too great to organize a response. A friend of mine, Fletcher Tink finds himself there in the midst of it all and speaks of the people wandering around aimlessly, not sure what to do as they await another aftershock. The pictures of the piles of rubble are overwhelming and the body count seems to go up by the hour. International relief efforts are beginning but in many ways it all seems daunting.

We give to one disaster after another and it feels like compassion fatigue can become a very real thing.

But then we read about Jesus. He never gave up. He didn’t allow that fatigue to keep him from ministering.

Yes, but he was God — you say! But he was also very human and he got tired and worn out on a regular basis. He knew that he had to spend time alone, in solitude and prayer with the Father but then, he didn’t give up on those with needs.

Jesus knew how to bring the disciples into partnership with him. They became participants in his healing and miraculous work. We are invited to do the same. The world needs compassion and if we think we can take care of all the needs on our own and in our own ability we are sorely mistaken. However, if we partner together with God and allow him to be our strength and guide, then he can help us push through the compassion fatigue, inspired and empowered by the working of God’s Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit will guide and lead us to the place of need. We are to follow the Master and allow his power to work in and through us. The disciples didn’t have any idea how to feed the 5000, but Jesus did! He worked in and through them and at the end of the day one of the greatest miracles the world had ever seen was completed.

Feeling overwhelmed by all the news? Find a quiet place, seek the Lord, and then go with compassion, ministering in and through his wisdom and strength.


Lord, give us your wisdom for service today. Amen.


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