WHEN KINDNESS ISN'T RETURNEDThey repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved. Yet when they were ill, I put on sackcloth and humbled myself with fasting.
When my prayers returned to me unanswered, I went about mourning as though for my friend or brother.(vss 12-14a9b)
When I left journalism for a while, to work in acute mental health wards, I was full of enthusiasm. I wanted to do something compassionate to help people, rather than writing negative stories in the newspapers. So on my first day, I was full of positivity. I walked on to the ward, and a lady was sat in the corridor, glaring at me. ‘**** you!’ she said loudly. It wasn’t quite what I expected but it was a welcome reminder that our best intentions are not always understood or appreciated. I loved the quirky characters in my new job, but often their reasons for being ungrateful were very understandable, and they had much bigger issues on their plate.
If we are compassionate towards someone, our selfish human nature expects them to be grateful. And, unlike the people on hospital wards, not everyone has justifiable reasons to respond negatively. Still, we expect them to repay our kindness and make ourselves feel better. But when that doesn’t happen and we are repaid unkindness for our good deeds, it feels unjust. Missionaries have been killed because they went to love; aid workers are attacked.
Jesus showed true compassion. He knew he was opposed and hated but still he continued in his mission of healing, teaching and redeeming. He is the ultimate example of being paid evil for his kindness; he was tortured and killed on a cruel cross. His prayer for the suffering to pass was unanswered, and he felt that his Father had abandoned him. But still he loved.
Prayer † Dear Lord, thank you that you love us, even when we do not repay your goodness. Help us to follow you and continue to love those who treat us badly. Amen.
The World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC) is a fellowship of 75 million Reformed Christians in 214 churches in 107 countries. Its member churches are Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed and United churches with roots in the 16th-century Reformation led by John Calvin, John Knox and others. WARC has a small secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.