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Multiplied Compassion

September 29, 2020

“Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them…” (Mark 2:3, NIV 1984).

I was over working at my computer when my clinical secretary called, “Guess who’s here?” No idea. “Mrs. Kushman. You took care of her husband.” I drug myself away from sterile technology and went to greet her. It had been four years, and now she was in our oncology clinic with her father. She told me her mother had cancer as well. I greeted her with an elbow bump and lowered my mask where she could see me. “How are you doing?” I asked. “Okay,” she said with her words, but not her eyes. “Do you have anyone to support you while you are going through this? Do you have a church?” She stood solidly on her faith in Christ and told me her pastor and church members were standing with her through the struggle.

Could one man have carried the paralytic to Jesus?

Most of my time with patients is focused on the specifics of their illness. I briefly try to touch their personal lives each visit and, if the Holy Spirit thumps me hard, I share a word about Christ. What I rarely consider is the very minor role I play in the emotional and spiritual well-being of my patients. I may touch and share for 20 minutes a month, but the other 43,000 minutes are out of my control. I suspect my patients would benefit far more if I spent a few minutes to develop a support team around them, like this sweet woman’s church did for her.

Recently, a friend I love died. I had been visiting him every couple of weeks to offer comfort, in a brief but worthwhile effort. And then I suggested to some men in my church that my friend might be helped by other visitors. They took my suggestion seriously. One man visited him every week and took him out to lunch where others were gathered. This man would donate hours of presence, where I rarely gave 20 minutes. A number of other men joined the effort. My wounded friend was eventually blessed far more by this support team than by my personal efforts.

God has limited each of us by time and space such that we cannot, as one person, accomplish a level of support and community that many need. I’ve got to understand that developing that support is partly my responsibility.

As I ease one’s pain with personal care, may I also send others to care.
As I smile with kindness, may I recruit others to smile in my absence.
As I hug, may I gather others to hug when I am gone.
As I bring the meal, may I enlist an army of meal bringers.
As I speak of Christ to the hurting, may I ensure that others can shower them with such words.

Let me understand that true compassion need not be limited by my small contribution. True compassion focuses on those in need rather than my own personal efforts. True compassion gathers the contributions of many to multiply the good that one might provide.

Dear Father,
Let me be wise with compassion and bring others to accomplish the comfort you have for those who suffer.

Al Weir, MD

Al Weir, MD

After leaving academic medicine, Dr. Weir served in private practice at the West Clinic in Memphis, Tennessee from 1991-2005 before joining the CMDA staff as Vice President of Campus & Community Ministries where he served for three years from 2005-2008. He is presently Professor of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and Program Director for the Hematology/Oncology fellowship program. He is also President of Albanian Health Fund, an educational ministry to Albania where he has been serving for 20 years. He is the author of two books: When Your Doctor Has Bad News and Practice by the Book. Dr. Weir’s work has also been published in many medical journals and other publications. Al and his wife Becky live in Memphis, Tennessee, and they have three children and three grandchildren. Dr. Weir is currently serving on CMDA's Board of Trustees.

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