I have been thinking a lot today about the Savior and His feelings in this life. He must have felt such sorrow at the wickedness around Him, and such pain when people rejected Him, because He truly understood what they were rejecting. But among His most painful moments, I have to think that learning of John the Baptist’s death had to be very hard for Him.

John the Baptist was not only His friend and cousin, but he had been sent to herald Christ’s arrival and to prepare the way for Him to come. John the Baptist understood, perhaps better than anyone else, who Christ truly was and what He came to do.

When I read of Christ’s reaction to the news of John’s death, my heart aches for Him. Though the scriptures don’t go into a lot of detail, it is as though I can feel His pain when I read:

When Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart.
Matthew 14:13

He must have wanted a small time alone, to ponder and probably to grieve. But the people ran after Him, not only His own followers, but also those of John the Baptist. Any of us would probably just wish for them to leave us alone for a little while.

But not Christ. When He saw them, He “was moved with compassion toward them,” and He healed them and taught them. When I read that today, I was struck by His selflessness and His power to give, even in a time of great personal pain.

But then the thought came to me…perhaps His power and selflessness comes partly through His giving. His joy and peace comes from His compassion, from His ability to serve even when wracked with His own pain. Perhaps that is why we are told to serve others when our own hearts are weary. When we do that, we are lifted ourselves and have more strength to bear whatever we are feeling. Pain also allows us to feel deeper compassion and gentleness for others. Painful experiences can be a gift to us, in that our compassion can deepen if we turn outward and bless others, for in that compassion, we can find Christ’s joy.

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