Over the last few weeks, we have been learning about Joseph. We watched as God anointed him for a special purpose, we mourned as his brothers jealously mistreated him, we sighed with relief as God provided for him in Egypt, we held our breath as he was falsely accused and suffered in prison, we rejoiced as God redeemed him to a place of high esteem, and this week we marveled as he chose to show compassion to those who hurt him.
We talked a little bit about what compassion meant at the beginning of class. No one was quite sure. Mostly the kids described compassion as feeling sorry for someone. Then we read how Joseph chose to share what he had to feed his brothers when they were hungry, the same ones who threw him in a pit, sold him into slavery, and celebrated in his misery.
After the story, a nine-year old little boy raised his hand with a smile in his eyes, and he said, "Oh, Mrs. Alison, now I see what compassion is…It's doing something that someone needs to show them you love them."
I'm pretty sure a doctorate in theology couldn't have come up with a better answer than that.
Compassion isn't about feeling sorry for someone. It's about recognizing a need and doing something to meet that need, not because the person deserves it, but because you desire to show them love, God's love.
This Thanksgiving as you gratefully reflect on all your blessings, take this opportunity to also teach your children about compassion. Talk about it, demonstrate it and pray God will build compassion in them as they grow so their lives are characterized by seeing needs and responding in love.
Here are some activities you can do with your children to help demonstrate compassion…
- When you shop for groceries, ask for paper instead of plastic. Then have your kids decorate the paper bags with colorful artwork or encouraging messages and donate the bags to your local food bank.
- Collect last year's coats that are already too small and donate them to your local Salvation Army. But before you do, have your children draw a picture or write a sweet note. Fold it up and place it in a pocket of the coat so that someone finds it on a cold day.
- When you bake your Thanksgiving pies or cookies, whip up an extra batch and deliver it to a local hotel, where employees often spend holidays working alone.
- Gather all those little soaps, lotions and shampoos you've collected at hotels and deliver them to your local women's shelter or homeless shelter.
- Take your children shopping to fill a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child (http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/) And when you go, don't buy anything for your children. Encourage them to pick out things they would like then let them find joy in giving.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! And find me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Promised/1558060764426036