When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36
Thank you to all of you who have been so supportive with your prayers and encouragement in regards to Arnold’s life, death and memorial service. His story has touched many, and also given many hope that there are no “closed” cases out there when it comes to faith. If God can cause light to shine out of darkness, He can speak faith into anyone’s heart at any time, so that no one is beyond hope (2 Corinthians 4:6).
Marti and I have also not been able to stop talking about Arnold’s statement to me about what I will do now that he’s gone, and especially his comment about being worried about me that turned into the heart of my memorial service message. Marti is convinced that “I’m worried about you,” is a universal statement that speaks to everyone. Who wouldn’t want someone worrying about them? Who wouldn’t want someone caring that much? And isn’t the fact that you can feel an intense hunger for this an indication that we are, perhaps, in our current society, more isolated than people have ever been in history? Where is your community? Who knows their neighbors? Strong family and tribal ties are no longer a given part of our social structure. Even as the earth’s population grows, we are more alone than we have ever been.
So along comes someone who says, “I’m worried about you,” and no wonder we respond. What if there were someone losing sleep over their concern for you right now? What if there were someone working up a sweat over what to do about your situation? What if there were someone who couldn’t stop thinking about you because they were so worried about you?
I am, by the way, using “worry” in a positive way to be concerned about someone. There are, of course, negative aspects to worry that have to do with anxiety, and taking things into our own hands that don’t belong there in the first place. Worrying about something we can do nothing about is useless. But worrying about someone else is a way of expressing concern. Even Jesus “worried” in this way.
The Bible says, on more than one occasion, that Jesus was “moved with compassion” for the people because they were “confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” I’ve heard that the word used here for “compassion” means to have one’s stomach turn. That’s close enough to worry in my book to be the same thing. That’s a beautiful part of the humanity of Jesus; that He would feel in His gut the pain of empathy over someone. I’m worried about you; I’m taking up your case; I’m going to do what I can to help you. But even Jesus’ help can be limited because of our free will. Once, when Jesus looked over the city of Jerusalem, He wanted to gather their children around Him the way a hen gathers her chicks, but they would not come. (Matthew 23:37) So even His concern was lost on the people and only a cause for grief, because they would not come to Him.
Once, He was moved with compassion over the people because they had been with Him for three days and He didn’t want to send them home hungry lest some of them faint on the way. He was worried about them. And this time they wanted Him to do something about it, so He worked a miracle and fed all 5,000 of them.
If you knew Jesus was worried about you, wouldn’t you get up and go to Him if you could? Well, He is, so go, because you can!
Imagine yourself at the counter at Johnny’s Cafe suddenly deep in conversation with a stranger you just met. He’s bared parts of his soul to you, and you, in turn, have done the same. But now you have to go. So what do you do? You say: “I have to go, but I’m worried about you. Here … here’s my card. Feel free to call me anytime for anything. I hope we can meet again.”