Corona, Comfort and Compassion

From a recent Revive Israel facebook live message by Asher Intrater

I was thinking about what’s going on in the world today as many nations are struggling with this Coronavirus plague. It’s not only a medical problem. It’s also a financial problem, and it’s making people everywhere very worried and stressed. They’re afraid of getting sick, and they’re afraid of losing their finances, and they’re beginning to think, “I could die or the whole social structure around me could just collapse!”

Everybody is feeling the pressure and difficulty. What do I feel? I feel everything everybody else feels, but the difference is that we have a measure of faith and strength on the inside. We have the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, to be able to deal with it.

“…God who comforts us in our troubles that we may be able to comfort those who are also in any kind of trouble by the Comfort by which we ourselves are comforted of God.” (II Corinthians 1:4)

This is not a comfort like me coming up and patting you on the back and saying, “Well I hope you feel better.” This is the Holy Spirit coming on the inside of us and bearing the situation together with our soul.

We must see this as a wonderful opportunity to go and be a comfort to others, encouraging and strengthening, building up someone from the inside in their given situation.

This is compassion – feeling what someone else is feeling and doing something about it. In this Passover season, let’s recall that after God’s first act in Egypt things initially looked like they got even worse. Moses comes to God. He says, “What happened? I thought you were going to save the people and now everything’s worse. Pharaoh took away our straw and now we have to run around and look for straw!”

And God’s answer was, “Now you’re going to see my power.”

So yes, this is a dangerous situation, but it’s also an opportunity to go forward and show more of the love of God.

Let’s go back a bit further in the book of Exodus. We read about someone showing comfort. Who was it? It was Pharaoh’s daughter. What a heroine!

“…and when she opened the basket She saw the child and behold the baby was weeping. And so she had compassion upon him and said this is one of the Hebrews’ children…” (Exodus 2:6)

This was the princess of Egypt! Her father had recently commanded that every Hebrew male child be killed. He was already oppressing them horribly, rejecting their God and giving them no religious freedom!

But the compassion of this young woman was greater than the witchcraft, the political power, the military and spiritual depravity of an empire so evil its cabinet members wore snakes on their head!

The princess simply had compassion for baby Moses. It’s like she said, “I know he’s one of the Hebrew babies, but my heart is bigger than all of the evil in the world, even if it’s from my dad.”

Wow. What an amazing thing. When you think about the Exodus story and you think how evil the Pharaoh was, think how wonderful his daughter was. In fact two things are going on in Egypt. You’ve got the evil that’s moving toward punishment. But you’ve also got a core of Egyptians who are beginning to feel some kind of compassion and identification with the people of Israel. They become the “mixed multitude” who come out of Egypt.

It began with this young lady – with something as simple as an act of compassion as she rescued this baby from the water. This was God’s appointed vessel of salvation in the world, and she saved him! They named him Moses (Mosheh). In Hebrew it means to pull someone up and out. If you check it carefully in II Samuel and in Psalms 18, it’s actually a prophecy of God pulling Yeshua up from hell. What an amazing thing – all from this woman who had a moment of compassion. That’s what got the ball rolling in the book of Exodus!

This is what one little act of compassion can do. We need to be ready to act in compassion.

Moved with Compassion

In times of difficulty, faith expresses itself in Acts of Compassion as you care for someone else.

In difficult situations there’s a tendency for people to think more about their own problems. You’re hurting, and that pain draws your attention. Right now, you and I and people everywhere, we’re all experiencing the same pain, and that’s causing us to think about ourselves, our stress and our difficulty. That’s natural, but it’s also an opportunity to overcome our self-centered focus to ask ourselves, “What is my neighbor feeling?”

Luke 10 says a certain Samaritan on a journey passed by a man lying on the road. He had been robbed and beaten. He was lying on the ground in pain. And when the Samaritan saw him he was moved by compassion.

Notice that this biblical kind of compassion causes us to do things. Money often seems to be involved. The Samaritan went and paid the injured man’s “medical” bills. Pharaoh’s daughter paid Moses’ mother to nurse him.

When you are stretched financially, reach out. The Bible says in Genesis 26 that Isaac sowed in the time of famine. He sowed when people didn’t have enough, and he reaped a hundredfold. Here’s an amazing opportunity for us to reach out and do that.

Single hand of drowning man in sea asking for help.

Two Solutions for Contagious Disease in the Bible

The world today is dealing with a contagious disease called Covid-19. In the Bible there are two obscure chapters that describe every little detail about how the priest would contain a contagious skin disease (Leviticus 13 and 14). Amazingly enough, almost 4,000 years ago, the Bible gave three instructions:

  1. Examine people and test whether they have it,
  2. Wash in water
  3. Prevent the infected people from having any contact with those that are not sick.

Wow, these three rules are probably on the front page of every single newspaper in the world today. That’s just a little encouragement that the Word of God is true.

Now those are the rules, the law. In addition to the law there is another level of overcoming the same sickness. Let’s look at what was Yeshua’s first healing miracle. He healed someone with a contagious disease.

Mark 1:41 says, “…Yeshua moved with compassion stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him ‘I am willing. Be cleansed.’”

Yeshua is speaking to a man with leprosy. Yeshua knows that  according to the Levitical laws you are to have no contact with a leper. That’s the law, but Yeshua has a power stronger than the law. This man is having a crisis, as many people are today. It’s not just a health crisis. It’s not just an economic crisis. It’s an existential crisis.

Am I going to live?

Does anybody care about me?

Yeshua said, “Not only do I care, I want to act on it.” He reached out and touched the leper and healed him.

Both levels are in the Bible. On one level we must obey the law, the government, the rules of hygiene. Examine. Wash. Separate.

But then we have another level which by faith we can tap into. We can access the power of God and pray for people to be healed, even if the doctors can’t do it.

Now what was the source of the healing power? Yeshua was moved with compassion!

“Yeshua went out he saw a great multitude, and he was moved with compassion for them and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14)

Compassion moves us. It does something. Because of compassion, Yeshua reached out to heal those around Him. I want us to have that kind of compassion. I want to have that kind of compassion, no matter what the situation. The worse the situation is, the more opportunities there are to reach out. Not everybody needs physical healing. Some people need encouragement. Some people need financial help. Some people just need a call to say hello because they’re lonely. I want to encourage you to look around, be moved by compassion and then act upon it!

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, May 6, 2020, and reposted with permission.