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 loves to sit with his wife by the bonfire and make up stories about Tom the Backyard-Badger for his three lovely daughters. When he's not carving up the Appalachian Mountains on his Salsa El Mariachi, you can find him busy writing a book, collaborating on a book, or reading a book written by someone dead and gone. Timothy studied beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis under theologian Alister McGrath. The author of five books, including Veneer: Living Deeply in a Surface Society (Zondervan), Timothy is currently finishing The Life-Changing Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019), preparing his doctoral thesis for publication, and trying to find a publisher for his first novel The Tempest and the Bloom. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.