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Our Four Words: Compassion

July 20, 2017

He looked down and saw a creature following him. Frodo looked up at Gandalf and the wizard acknowledged that this creature named Gollum, twisted into evil by centuries alone with the ring of power, had been following them all along.


Frodo was disgusted by this evil.


He said, “it is pity that Bilbo (his uncle who took the ring from Gollum originally) hadn’t stabbed him when he had a chance.”


The next line transforms the story of Frodo entirely. Gandalf says, “it was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand.” Gandalf then describes the pity of Bilbo being the turning point in the entire epic of The Lord of the Rings (see insert).

Gollum (formerly a Hobbit named Smeagol) would play an essential role in the deliverance of Middle Earth, and that role was preserved by Bilbo’s compassion and Frodo’s compassion. In fact, though he had only contempt for the creature at first, the burden of bearing the ring and its spell of evil ended up generating in Frodo genuine compassion for Gollum.


Compassion is at the center of the story of The Lord of the Rings. It is the hidden pin that holds the entire epic story together.


Could compassion be at the center of the story of the world?  Could it also be that which holds all of life together?


Sometimes I look at society and the suffering in this world and I want it cleaned up, NOW! God does promise that, but his promises aren’t necessarily on our timing.  The Apostle Peter famously spoke,


“The Lord does not delay his promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9


The Lord