I don’t know what the weather is like where you live right now, but January where I live is usually a cold, grey, wet month. Outside my window right now, the sky is cloudy and a cold rain is falling. Sometimes, it feels as though the cold, grey, moisture has seeped under my skin and left me feeling as though I’ll never be warm again. It affects how I feel physically, but it also takes a toll on my mind and heart, too. The cold outside makes me feel cold inside—sad, grey, and lonely.
My Scripture reading in this new year began in Matthew. As I read through chapter 9, I noticed a pattern: I kept seeing the words, “Jesus saw.” First, He sees the faith of a paralyzed man and the friends who brought him to Jesus: “When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the man, ‘Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven’” (v. 2b). Next, Jesus saw Matthew, the tax collector-turned-disciple: “‘Follow me,’ He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him” (v. 9). Then, in the midst of a crowd, a bleeding woman touches just His cloak and finds herself healed: “Jesus turned and saw her. ‘Take heart, daughter,’ He said, ‘your faith has healed you’” (v. 22). Finally, Jesus saw the crowd of people who had come to hear Him preach the Good News and receive healing. Verse 36 says, “When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like a sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus was constantly being pressed on every side by people who wanted something from Him. That had to have been exhausting. But, even in the midst of the crowd, Jesus saw individuals who were hurting and who needed not just healing in their bodies but in their souls, as well.
I tend to be the kind of person who feels the need to power through tough times; I’m harder on myself than anyone else could be. But, I think there’s something for us in this reminder that Jesus sees. He saw a hopeless woman, a hated tax collector, a paralyzed man. He felt compassion for a crowd of distressed, dejected people. Jesus saw their cold, grey hardships, and He was not hard on them for feeling the way they did. He didn’t tell them to power through. Instead, He had compassion for them.
It’s generally a safe assumption that if I’m going through something difficult, I’m not the only one. Most people are dealing with something hard, whether we know it or not. So, in this cold, dreary season, I want to remember to see people in their hurt and heartache. I want to ask God to give me His eyes for people and a heart of compassion for those who are hurting. May we see like Jesus saw, and may our hearts be touched for the distressed and dejected.
Corley Shumaker is the Assistant Campus Minister of the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Arkansas State University. She has an MDiv. degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Corley is married to Kevin and you’ll find them cheering on Red Wolves football each fall. You can reach her on Twitter at @corleycline