Preacher Martin Lloyd-Jones used to tell the story of a lady who went to see a play in a London theatre on a cold winter’s night.

The story was set in the years before automotive transport, so she had a coachman who drove her in a horse and carriage to the play.

While she watched the show, the poor coachman had to sit outside in the snow on the driver’s seat of the coach looking after the horse.

Inside the theatre, the lady was moved to tears by the performance.  Some of the characters in the play were in a desperately poor situation and she was emotionally affected by their terrible plight, but when she came out and saw the poor coachman covered in snow and almost frozen to death, she wasn’t moved at all, but took it for granted as a normal part of life.

When I first read this story, I felt chastised.

It’s easy to turn on the television and see the plight of people in horrible circumstances.  Whenever I see poverty, war or tragic events, I am moved and saddened, wishing that I could do more to make a difference.

But I too often forget that I have neighbours who also struggle with life.  They lose their jobs, experience death in the family or suffer from domestic violence.

These people matter too, and just because their situation isn’t as stark or as obvious, perhaps I have been placed here to make a difference in their lives too.

It’s easy to feel emotional about situations that we can do nothing about, but that’s not real compassion.

Compassion is taking action to help the people within arm’s reach.

Let’s start with that!

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