Was there ever a time in history when pretty much any decent person would do the same as this officer did? I think there are lots of people for whom it would seem instinctively the thing to do, had they witnessed what he witnessed, and being unable to save her. A person is alone, and in an instant she has been catastrophically injured beyond rescue, actively dying. No one should die alone. But sadly, such a reaction by the officer is becoming more rare all the time. I am glad he was there. I would hope, if it were a member of my family, someone would do that for them. Police officers, firemen, nurses, EMT’s, soldiers all share that deep compassion along with a sense of duty to serve others. When I was in hospice nursing, people often made statements like “I don’t know how you do it” and “it takes a special kind of person to do this work”. But people who do that kind of thing, merely see a human in need, and “do unto others as they would have others do unto them”. Not doing something to help or comfort would violate their personal ethhics, and so isn’t an option.
For me, it felt like a privilege to serve a person in and through that momentous and final passage and milestone of life. It felt sacred. The sense of duty toward fellow human beings is not limited to medical and law enforcement. Not everyone with that sense of obligation goes into a life-and-death service career. Teachers, mail carriers, people of all walks of life do extraordinary things for others every day.
As “bad” becomes “worse”, in society and people who have never really suffered, never lacked any necessity begin to experience for the first time, a lowering of their standard of living and become acquainted with things like hunger, unemployment, illness, one would hope those not prone to empathy will develop it. That has been the case before.
It is not such a bad thing for more people to experience trials if they learn compassion and empathy in the process. But scripture tells us that will not be the case, rather evil men and seducers will wax worse, (II Tim 3: 13) and the love of many will grow cold (Mt24:12). All you have to do to prove that has happened, is click on a news site, maybe just look out your window. If we as Christians still in flesh are sickened by the human trafficking, labor slavery, slaughter of babies and selling of their parts, random drive-by shootings, twisted assault on the minds of children, I ask God every day, How can You stand it? Not accusatorily. I ask knowing how compassionate, loving and merciful He is. I guess what is different in God’s capacity to love as opposed to human’s capacity to love, is the fact He cares as much for the perpetrators as the victims. He gives to the undeserving. But wait, that would cover all of us, right? Whether we mean to or not, are conscious of it or not, we tend to categorize people as bad or good, and have our own opinions on what each may deserve. God said there are none who are righteous, no not one.
What I find I have to guard against is letting my disappointment in others snuff out my own willingness to continue to give. There have been chapters in life when I wondered why I had no one “there for me” in times I needed encouragement or help. Where was the same willingness to share my burdens, as I have strived to extend to anyone I notice has a need? I think one key component is the noticing. Some people are not ” noticers” of people. They are often individuals with razor focus and gifted intellectual capacity. We need those type for surgeons, engineers, secret service, scientists, so that’s not a dig. I have to confess that at times, the dearth of concern aimed my way put a damper on my generosity of spirit. But I shouldn’t let it.
The hope is, do good to others, and others will do good to you. Give, and it will be given unto you, good measure, pressed, down, shaken and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again , right? (Luke 6: 38). That may happen, but it sometimes seems more the exception than the rule. If I choose to become less giving and caring in the absence of the same from others directed at me, that is telling. It says I have taken an attitude of entitlement. As if the giving I’ve done earns me something, when it does not, at least not in this life. Christ did not surrender His life and blood in a tit-for-tat bid to render anyone indebted to Himself! It’s the exact obverse! He gave to pay off a debt we owed and could never pay. The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:23)
My mistake was that I didn’t understand there is an element of timing. It will come back, just not necessarily when or how you think it should. Cast your bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days. Ecclesiastes 11:1.
From Pulpit Commentary, Biblehub.com:
“…if we take the verse as urging active beneficence as the safest and best proceeding under men’s present circumstances, We have a maxim in due accordance with the spirit of the rest of the work, and one which conduces to the conclusion reached at the end. So we adopt the first of the two explanations mentioned above. The bread in the East is made in the form of thin cakes, which would float for a time if thrown into a stream; and if it be objected that no one would be guilty of such an irrational action as flinging bread into the water, it may be answered that this is just the point aimed at. Do your kindnesses, exert yourself, in the most unlikely quarters, not thinking of gratitude or return, but only of duty. And yet surely a recompense will be made in some form or other. Thou shalt find it after many days. This is not to be the motive of our acts, but it will in the course of time be the result; and this thought may be an encouragement. In the Chaldee Version of parts of Ecclesiasticus there is extant a maxim identical with our verse, “Strew thy bread on the water and on the land, and thou shalt find it at the end of days” (Dukes, ‘Rabb. Btumenl.,’ p. 73). Parallels have been found in many quarters. Thus the Turk says, “Do good, throw it into the water; if the fish does not know it, God does.” Herzfeld quotes Goethe –
From Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary:
Excuse not thyself with the good thou hast done, from the good thou hast further to do. It is not lost, but well laid out. We have reason to expect evil, for we are born to trouble; it is wisdom to do good in the day of prosperity. Riches cannot profit us, if we do not benefit others. Every man must labour to be a blessing to that place where the providence of God casts him. Wherever we are, we may find good work to do, if we have but hearts to do it.
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
That officer had a job, but laying on the searing road to comfort a dying woman was not an obligation of his job, it was a gift, a good work, the kind of work God created us for, and the sweet savor of sacrifice that pleases the Lord.
Ever felt like you just never discovered your purpose? Is it possible for some, their gift, calling, and purpose is being that one who would serve as a conduit for the Lord to comfort a dying one, or approach a tearful stra n.v ger to offer a hug, or buy a meal for a homeless person? Something to consider!