...but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. — Philippians 3:13b-14
compassion fatigue — indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals...
medical definition of compassion fatigue — the physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those that care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time... fatigue, emotional distress, or apathy resulting from the constant demands of caring for others or from constant appeals from charities: compassion fatigue experienced by doctors and nurses...
It has become a way of explaining how citizens of the U.S. are feeling after a time of disaster. This summer has seen numerous horrific hurricanes, floods, and forest fires causing many to respond to requests from religious and secular response teams. Churches have been preparing Clean-up Buckets for Church World Service. As well, Red Cross, FEMA, and other agencies have been received constant demands from those impacted by these natural disasters. And this doesn't even include the responses to the earthquake in Mexico, floods and starvation in other places around the world. When will it stop? When will "asking" help subside? When is enough enough?
And now...the Vegas tragedy is calling once again for people to help in response to the needs- long lines of people donating blood, families trying to find out about their loved ones who were victims of this horrible mass shooting. And we ask, "When will this senseless violence end?" Maybe, it is better for us to bury our heads into the sand and ignore the needs that are so great. Being removed from face-to-face issues that need our compassion is much easier to avoid if we remain "distant" to the seemingly endless needs.
The first definition of compassion fatigue says- [the]"indifference to charitable appeals on behalf of those who are suffering, experienced as a result of the frequency or number of such appeals." However, we must remember this phrase first came about due to the first responders and doctors and nurses who have had to deal with massive injuries or death. I suppose, we, who may not be in those professions, can simply find it easier to claim compassion fatigue because we have been removed first hand from the tragedies of violence- human created and naturally created.
Yes, at this moment, I am numb. I am at a loss and struggle emotionally for the pain and suffering around us. I wonder when I may even find my compassion "fatigued."
The Apostle Paul reminds us that people of faith continue to be the Body of Christ to build God's realm here on earth as in heaven. It is the embodiment of our words we speak each Sunday as we say The Lord's Prayer. If we believe what we pray, then let each us continue to strain forward to the heavenly call of God in Christ.
Pastor Steve Welker