The Saviour’s ministry is full of evidences of the divine attribute of compassion. According to the Webster Dictionary, compassion is sympathetic consciousness of others' distress, together with a desire to alleviate it. It motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual or emotional hurts or pains of another. The root or origin of the word compassion is Latin, meaning “co-suffering”. Hence, in the Guide to the Scriptures we find the following statement: Compassion means literally “to suffer with.”
Jesus Christ then raised this young man from the dead and delivered him to his mother. This poor widow must have gone through a lot in her life losing her husband, and now her only son was dead. We are not told of her pleading or petition to the Saviour, but He just saw her and had compassion on her and raised her only son from the dead. The Savior reached out to her unexpressed need, just as He does in our lives today when He answers prayers that may not have been verbalized. As His disciples, we can be like the people of the city of Nain, whom we are told that “much people of the city was with her”. They stood by this widow in her time of grief.
Also recorded in Luke chapter 7 is an account of the healing of the centurion’s servant. This servant “was dear unto him and was also sick, and ready to die” (Luke 7:2). The centurion sent messengers to the Savior to plead with Him that He would heal his servant: “Say in a word, and my servant shall be healed,” he said (Luke 7:7). The centurion had compassion on his servant. Amazing things happen as we plead with the Savior for those whom we love. We see in this account the faith of the centurion and not so much of the faith of the servant who was healed. President Boyd K. Packer said, “Inspiration comes more quickly when we need it to help others than when we are concerned about ourselves.”
His invitation to the Nephites still stands today for me and you – we have to bring ourselves to Him so that He can heal us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What about our loved ones who may be “afflicted in any manner” (3 Nephi 17:7)? Some of them may be struggling with activity in the Church. How can we bring them to the Savior so that He can heal them? Can we learn something from the centurion who went out of his way to have his servant healed by the Saviour? Can we learn something from the good Samaritan who did not judge, but compassionately helped, simply because help was needed?
Fifteen years ago I lost my young brother, who was sick for a brief period. My parents and I did all we could, using the meagre resources we had to get the best medical care for him. After his death, as the oldest child, I was overwhelmed with the feeling, “What else could I have done?” However, I felt the Spirit whispering peace to my heart, to say “You have done all you could. This is my will”. I felt the Lord saying, “My bowels are filled with compassion towards you” and blessing me with peace and comfort which I needed so dearly at that time.
I testify that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, stands ready to heal us, “extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in Him” Mosiah 29:20.
1 Merriam- Webster Dictionary available at merriam-webster.com
2 Boyd K. Packer, “Prayers and Answers,” Ensign November 1979