One of my greatest frustrations is my lack of compassion for people. My head can see each person’s subjective (and usually, very painful) experience. I ask God daily for his heart of compassion. But no matter what I do, I cannot instill an authentic, lasting compassion in my own heart.

In my last post, I hypothesized that a reason for this may be my underexposure to severely hurt people in the first 20 years of my life. But today my dad highlighted a far more important reason, one that is illustrated by The Chosen, by Jewish novelist Chaim Potok. I will summarize the story for you:

During WWII, two Jewish teens in New York become friends. One is Danny, son of a tzaddik in a strict Hasidic sect. Reuven is a liberal Jew. Both are very bright and gifted young men. Danny’s father, Reb, never speaks to Danny. Reb goes so far as to relay messages to Danny through his mother. Reb does, however, speak freely with his younger son. Neither Danny nor Reuven know why this is, and come to resent Reb.

Finally, Reb reveals the reason for his silence. Though it broke his heart, he chose to raise his elder son in silence because only suffering would teach him compassion, and Danny was too talented to endure suffering naturally. Reb knew his son needed a caring soul to compliment his magnificent mind.

I have not compassion because I have not suffered.

Even before today, I’ve been asking God to test my faith because I know I have not been tasted. I’ve received life on a silver platter. I do not have compassion because I do not know pain. I must trust in God’s timing.