My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
-Psalm 51:17, NIV
Priest and writer Henri Nouwen says that in order for compassion to grow in an individual, he or she must dive into the discipline of solitude. “Compassion is the fruit of solitude and the fruit of all ministry,” he says. Solitude, in our modern culture, does not come easy or without specific intention.
“In solitude,” continues Nouwen, “our heart of stone can be turned into a heart of flesh, a rebellious heart into a contrite heart, and a closed heart into a heart that can open itself to all suffering people in a gesture of solidarity.”
When I am most stressed, I am most unkind, compassion wanes. To unlock the vault of kindness within, I must release those things that tie my mind and spirit to stress: provision issues—Will projects keep coming?—and procrastination and other issues I haven’t given to God.
My wife and I ask each other, “What would kindness say here?” The only way we can answer that question is if we’ve given the situation some thought and ambled around in solitude for a spell.
Today’s Prayer: Lord Jesus, may your kindness and compassion remind me to slow down enough to feel my fist unclench.
Today's post comes from my new devotional Longing For More. It's a 52-week devotional you can pick up any time during the year and begin working through. Each week I explore a new theme. Today's post comes from Week 20 - KINDNESS.
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Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.