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Have You Ever Been Hungry

Have you ever been hungry?
Have you ever been hungry? I mean, like, have you ever experienced real hunger? My stomach
has groaned, and I’ve used the phrase “I’m starving!” but I have always been able to satisfy this
need, even if it’s by running into a gas station for an overpriced granola bar.  
This past week I sat in a room of experts that are trying to make Kansas the first hunger-free
state in our nation. It was an honor for me to soak up their knowledge and be inspired to truly
help those in need.
At one point during the meeting, the emcee asked for suggestions on how to help those that are hungry in Kansas, and one of the participants challenged all of us in the room, asking, “Do you truly feel compassion for those in need, and does your compassion move you towards action?”

It would be awful to be truly hungry, and I feel bad for the countless starving people on this
planet. But do I have compassion for hungry people?

Compassion is defined as “concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.” Sometimes
others’ circumstances are so foreign to us we often cannot fathom what they are going through,
and it can be challenging to have genuine concern.
Years ago, while in Uganda with my family, we met a lady named Joyce that was truly hungry
and in search of a new home. Her current home was smaller than the car we drive. Her home was a clay/dirt hut and had holes in the roof, and she told us that her neighbors would often take advantage of her.
A few hours after visiting with Joyce, one of my children taught me a lesson on compassion. One of my boys came up to me, and with tears in his eyes asked, “Dad, can we please buy Joyce a new home? I’m willing to give my allowance to help.” How can a dad say no to that request?
The Apostle Paul says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans
12:15) Paul is trying to teach us about compassion. As Jesus followers, we are being taught to
share our neighbor’s emotional experiences. I am drawn to the action words of Paul’s statement: It doesn’t say to “feel bad for those who are mourning.” It says to literally cry with them. To have the same emotion they are having — with a passion — one that brings forth tears.
We are all called to show grace and love to hurting people, even when we can only guess at how
they feel; yet the true depth of compassion is achieved through joining the emotion with action.
Jesus is the ultimate example of compassion. He literally put Himself in our place when He died
on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His compassion led Him to action.
Jesus told us the greatest commandments are to love our Lord with all our heart, mind, and soul, and to love others as ourselves. In a culture rampant with selfishness and greed, Jesus offers a better way. We are, after all, His hands and feet, and what better way to represent Jesus and love others than with the gift of compassion.

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you
should follow in His steps.
(1 Peter 2:21)