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Reading with Compassion

Reading with Compassion

Something to read

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God.

- Psalm 42:11.

Something to think about

My daughter’s favourite toddler TV show features a bumbling policeman who helps fellow villagers to solve their mysteries and overcome little problems. In one episode however, the problem belongs to him. The policeman has become anxious, worrying about everything from upsetting other people, to getting his work done. The response from his friends is well-intentioned but somewhat unhelpful: just cheer up and stop worrying!

It's perhaps a sign of the age of the programme; it was made 20 years ago, and nowadays young people are taught to respond to emotional and mental health concerns with a little more patience and understanding.

We all have hard days, and it’s not always easy to show the same kindness to ourselves that we’d offer to others. When we’re feeling down, we might read the question in Psalm 42 as a harsh admonishment, telling ourselves to just cheer up and get over it. But through the soul-searching questions of the Psalms, we meet the God of real compassion, who invites us to share every difficult feeling and thought, and find a gentle invitation to hope again.

If ‘cast down’ or ‘disquieted’ describe you today, try speaking to your own soul with tender tones, assured that God meets our questions with care.

Something to do


Consider something that is getting you down, whether big or small, and write a note to yourself as if writing to a friend, offering care, concern and kindness in response. Read it back and hear God’s compassion for you in the words.

If your feelings are overwhelming, you may also wish to share them with a friend or counsellor.

Something to pray

Loving God, thank you that you are ready and willing to share my every frustration and pain, my anxieties and my sadness. Please nurture in me compassion for myself and others. When I am gripped by emotion of any kind, help me to turn to you and find your unfailing care for me. Amen.

Today’s contributor is Rev Claire Jones