If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Into his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
If we were to summarize Miss Dickinson’s aforementioned thoughts in one word, it would aptly be compassion. But what does Scripture teach us about compassion?
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering… (Colossians 3:12).
Interestingly, Emily Dickinson was not an overtly religious person. In fact, her writings often reflect her feelings of “being shut out of heaven.” Nevertheless, she understood the importance of compassion; possibly because she was shown very little during her reclusive life.
Emily was, I believe, the fainting robin she wrote about. If only she could have grasped the truth that God is … full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth (Psalm 86:15) even towards her . And if only others had shown her more mercy, love and compassion, as we are commanded to do in Scripture; perhaps she might have lived a more joyous life, having never felt shut out of heaven.
Dear reader, there are many Emily’s out there. Will you be the one to show them God’s unceasing compassion by loving as Jesus loved? Will you help a “fainting robin” back into the nest, or stop someone’s heart from breaking? If you do this for even one person, then your life will not have been lived in vain.