Eyes of Compassion – A Story

Peter sat at the corner of the house, his head on his knees, arms on his head. His tears wouldn’t stop. The overwhelming sense of guilt. The Lord knew it would happen and even told him it would.

For three years he followed his Teacher – three years in which he witnessed miracles so extraordinary, so unique, so touching, that they were almost beyond belief. Blind could see, lame could walk, deaf could hear, sick were healed, dead were brought back to life. For three years he sat at the Lord’s feet. He heard Him speak with an authority that he never heard before from anyone else. He saw Him transform right before his eyes, shining brighter than snow, standing with Moses and Elijah. Oh, so many memories of that entire time now all seemed to flood his thoughts. And the more he remembered, the more he cried in anguish.

That particular night seemed to last forever. Peter really thought that he would be the one to never deny the Lord. Oh, he could fling a sword, he was prepared to die for Him. But to live for Him? To acknowledge Him before others? Peter’s mind went through the events of that night, minute by minute. The Lord was taken by so many soldiers, as if coming they were coming for a criminal and He was led to the house of the High Priest. Peter fled with the rest of the disciples, but followed Yeshua to the house. John was able to let him in. Peter watched and heard the interrogation going on inside, including the mocking, the beating, the spiting and the humiliation of the Lord. The King, whose kingdom was not of this world, was treated with less dignity than a slave. 

And then came the moment of truth when he was asked: “You were with Him, weren’t you?” “What are you talking about?” – his first denial. He thought that he can’t be found to be there; no one must know he was a disciple. “If they treat my Master this way, after all He had done…what will become of me?” Fear crept into Peter’s heart. He loved the Lord, but seeing Him now, not defending himself, not responding to the attacks, confused him. He did not understand. “You WERE with Him, you are Galilean”. Peter tried to deny again, swearing he did not know Yeshua. His second denial. “I just want to listen to what is going on inside…” he thought. A third time someone identified him as a disciple. This time, Peter cursed and denied – the third time. Suddenly, the cock crowed. Peter froze as he began to turn, almost without control, to look back inside the house. Yeshua turned His head and looked at him. Amidst all the mockery and beating, Yeshua knew exactly where to look. “Those eyes, He knows“, Peter said to himself. Remorse and anguish overwhelmed him, as he fled from the courtyard. 

Peter remembered the look in the eyes that looked at him. The more he thought of it, the more he realised those eyes were not filled with judgment or anger, but rather, compassion. Yeshua knew this would happen. 

Now, Yeshua is being led to the cross and there is nothing any of them can do. In the midst of the sorrow and anguish, Peter thought, “I must see Him, at least from afar, one last time“. He went and stood at a distance as he saw his beloved Lord carrying a cross on His bruised back, bleeding, unrecognisable from all the beatings and lashes the Romans inflicted on Him. Peter wanted to cry, but his eyes were already red from the tears shed over his own actions. He watched and followed, as they led Yeshua to the cross. There, he saw Miriam, Yeshua’s mother weeping, falling to the ground at the sight of her son, as the nails were driven into His hands and legs. “No mother should see her son die, not like this”, he thought. Emotions were raging inside of Peter, he felt as if he were in a dream, not being able to wake up. Suddenly, the sky went dark and people began to panic. He looked and saw a centurion thrust a spear into Yeshua’s side. That was more than Peter could bare to watch. He was broken. He was overwhelmed. He fled the scene.

A few days later, as he met with the rest of the disciples, no one mentioned what happened. They all knew. They had all heard Yeshua say it would happen. The pain they were all feeling was enormous, as if a member of their own family had died. Peter was beyond being comforted, as guilt lay heavily on his heart. Then there was a commotion and women shouting, “We saw Him! We saw the Lord!” The disciples were startled as a few women came bursting in the room, claiming to have seen the Lord. “He is alive, Yeshua is alive, just like He said!” Peter’s mind was racing. He quickly got up, John along with him and they ran towards the tomb where Yeshua was placed. Peter ran like never before, but John outran him. They made it to the tomb and it was empty, just like the women said. “He’s alive!” Peter tried to think. “What will He say to me? What will I say to Him? How can I face Him again after what I’ve done?”

A short time passed and the disciples were back in Galilee, fishing again, after more than three years of not fishing. It was hard work, but one that Peter enjoyed and gave him some peace. “Look to the shore!” someone yelled. Peter looked up along with the disciples. “It’s Yeshua!” Immediately, he jumped into the water and rushed to get to Yeshua, who had prepared a meal for them, some fish and bread. Peter didn’t say a word, he didn’t know what to say, what to expect. Yeshua asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter looked into those eyes that stared into his.  Three times Yeshua asked him if he loves him. “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You”. Those eyes that were once filled with sadness and compassion now seemed full of love as Yeshua told him to feed His lambs, to tend and shepherd His sheep.

Something had happened. Peter knew it. Healing had taken place at that moment. The guilt and shame Peter felt earlier were gone. The Lord, His Lord, had not condemned him but, rather, welcomed him and showed him forgiveness, mercy and grace. Years later, as Peter was about to die for his faith, he understood. Living for the Lord Yeshua is the greatest sacrifice he could have done, and in his dying for the Lord, he knew he had completed the race.

© Hannah Kramer

When pride kicks in

“But let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 09:24)

Whenever I hear people share about their ministry or give testimonies, I start to pray that they will not mention themselves too much, so that a resonating “me, me, me” will not fill the room. I enjoy hearing people share these things, but at times there is a tendency to focus on ourselves, accompanied by saying “it is for God” every so often. The focus changes and then without notice, the words that come out from our mouth are “I did”, “I accomplished”, as if all that has been done was by our own wisdom and strength.

Not too long ago, I came across a situation like that, And then it hit me. I felt disgusted by the blatant pride that others were exhibiting. But, more than that, I was disgusted with myself. Why? Because all of a sudden I had a close look at my very own Pride. I will not get into detail, but I did realize my pride in thinking I knew more and that I could do better. Imagine looking at yourself in the mirror, truly seeing yourself … thoughts, feelings, emotions and everything on display before your eyes. I had to realize and perhaps feel for myself how God hates pride once I saw it myself and felt the disgust.

Usually, it is just the opposite. We can’t stand pride when we see it in others. But, somehow, we seem to tolerate it when it comes to ourselves. We think we deserve it and, therefore, it is acceptable.

Pride and envy often seem to go hand in hand. What do I have to be proud of? Have I accomplished anything by my own strength? Have I saved anyone? Have I a position and status achieved by none other than – me? Have I a right to say “I am an example for you”? No. All that has been accomplished in my life is by God’s grace and that alone. All that I am is by his grace alone. If I have shared the Gospel with someone and that person believed, it is God that saved. Not me. Any role or position that I or you may have is, again, by God’s grace. Paul said “follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). I hope to be such an example that others could see Christ in me as they look at me. Yet even then, will I boast? “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).

James wrote that Elijah was a man like us and we see by his life that, indeed, he had feelings like us. Perhaps the most famous story about him is the miracle om Mt. Carmel. Yet what happened after that? Elijah ran for his life and even asked God to take it. When he arrived to the cave (1 Kings 18), he told God that there were no more people left who worshipped God, only him. Had he forgotten that Obediah hid prophets and told him so before the miracle on the mountain? Maybe, just maybe, mixed up with his depression, there was a touch of pride there, that God had to show Elijah in order to prepare him for the future. God spoke to Elijah in the still small voice, not in fire or wind or storm. And then, He reminded him that He left 7,000 knees which did not bow to Ba’al. Elijah was a prophet that was chosen for that time in the history of the Jewish people, yet he was not the only one. Do we sometimes feel as though we are so special that no one else can do what we do? Yes, God called Elijah especially for the job, but it was not because of who he was or what he has done, but because God chose him to do so. Elijah learned humility in a cave, in order to go to the bottom of the mountain. He would later be placed on the top of another mountain in a special time in history. Elijah was on Mt. Hermon along with Moses, the most humble person and with our Lord Yeshua, Who humbled Himself even to death on the cross. Pride could not stand in the Lord Yeshua’s presence.

Unfortunately, there are those who take pride in themselves for many reasons. We like the flattery and compliments from those around us. It is so important to us that everyone knows that was my idea, my doing, the credit should go to me. Even when we are right and the “credit” does go to us, will we boast about it? Is our name so important to us? My dad always tells me “when you take care of God’s name, He will take care of yours”. Status, positions, money, academic degrees and being part of the right “clique” are only some of the things people pride themselves in. And when pride kicks in, love is kicked out. Pride becomes an obstacle to prevent us from truly loving the Lord Yeshua and our brethren (more on that in the next post).

Pride is one of the things God despises (Proverbs 8:13). We should remember to give God the glory and honor, and not only say it in words, but to confirm it in our hearts first and turn in our actions.

What have we to boast in but in our Lord Yeshua? “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galations 6:14).

© Hannah Kramer

Keep your eyes on God

“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, those who wait for His lovingkindness”. (Psalm 147:10-11)

How easy it is to look to man, to view some people as perfect, wishing we were like them, at times idolizing them and then being disappointed with ourselves for not being like them, How easy it is to expect people to be perfect. And then, when we see their flaws, we become disappointed with them, for not meeting up to the standards we think they should stand up to, or the standards that we set up.

I went mith my mom to a women’s meeting, where she was asked to speak on “Parenting and raising up children”. Among some of the things that came up as she taught was the dire need to teach the children and youth to know in Whom they believe in and why, and to realize the importance of fellowship. The women shared that the youth in that particular congregation was almost none existent. The members of that fellowship have teenage children, but the problem is that they no longer want to come to fellowship. This poses a serious concern for the future of that congregation. The women shared that it wasn’t always this way. It is only in recent years, after this generation saw conflicts and inconsistencies between what the people said and what they did that the problems began to arise there. The parents and friends that they trusted and followed for so long, left them broken, upset, confused and doubting.

Disappontment from people! I’m sure everyone has experienced it at one time or another. I certainly have. We see people behave in ways we don’t understand and we become upset at them, sometimes even very upset. It can even result in our becoming upset with God. Why? Is it because deep down, we expect them to be perfect? Maybe. Perhaps we have an expectation that believers should be perfect. Well, that’s not the case. Our faith doesn’t make us perfect and flawless. We err, we make mistakes, we don’t always do things right. But, for the most part, we’re trying to do what is right. As human beings, we won’t be perfect until we meet the only One who is perfect, our savior, the Lord Yeshua. We are still in the process of being conformed to His image and likeness. But, this transformation cannot done by us in our own wisdom, or by our own strength. It can and will be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit working in us.

So why do we still become disappointed from people? Maybe the question should be, “Why do we look to people?” I have expectations from people. I expect that when they need to do something, they’ll do it. I expect that when something needs to be dealt with and taken care of, that the right thing will be done by the right people and in the right way – regardless of circumstances or what people say or do.

Being disappointed is natural. There is nothing wrong with it in and of itself. However, the problem lies deeper, in where we set our eyes. I have heard of people whose disappointment in people resulted in them leaving the fellowship of believers and then turning away from the faith. Disappointment can come from how believers talk, how they relate to one another, judge one another, patronize one another and because they gather in exclusive “clicks”. I recently heard of a young man who is still in high school and dating non-believers. When he went to a youth camp once, he was so repulsed by the behavior of the youth, he decided to look to the world for friendships. He said that the girls he dated behaved more civilized than those who claimed to be believers. Do you see the danger of setting your eyes on man? It can make you decide that because believers act a certain way, they reflect what God is like and then anger and frustration are turned against God.

It is okay to have expectations. But we need to set our eyes on God and keep them there. We need to push forward and fight the good fight of faith for God. He will never disappoint you. The teenagers from the beginning of this post have set their eyes on people. They were hurt and they had a right to feel upset and disappointed. But, if the basis for their coming to fellowship was people, then the basis was wrong and unstable to begin with. Congregation fellowship should bring about growth in faith, hope and love (Heb. 10:22-24). That’s why we should encourage one another not to forsake being in fellowship.

Keeping our eyes on God can also help us in our behavior towards others. Do we seek to please man, do we want others to see “how good we are”, or “how talented”, or do we want to be “part of the group”? Or, is my motivation to please God, to revere Him, and wait for His lovingkindness? In both situations, when people are the ones we look to, what eventually happens is comparison. I compare myself to someone else, either because I want to be like them – or I want to be better than them. Both are wrong, since the only one we should desire to be like is Messiah Yeshua. And we need to be like Him. We need to be careful not to compromise on Biblical principles and to conform to what the world tries to mould us into. God doesn’t accept us because you’re popular, successful or good looking. He accepts us because of our faith in the blood of the Lord Yeshua that was shed for us. We are His workmanship and He made us for His glory.

If we are still looking to people today instead of looking to God, we need to change the focus of our attention and the direction of our eyes. As the prophet Micah said: “But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me”. (Micah 7:7).

© Hannah Kramer