When he saw the crowds, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36

Jesus frequently found himself in a crowd of people. Their demands must have seemed endless, yet he kept coming back for more. “Let us go on to the neighboring towns as well,” he told his disciples (as recorded in Mark 1:38), “that I may preach there also, for that is why I have come.”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being in a crowd. Perhaps Jesus didn’t like it much either, but he had a shepherd’s heart, and when he heard cries for help, he responded.
To my understanding, Jesus did turn away from the crowd once—when the groupies who had been following him sought to make him king (John 6:15). He would have none of it. Throughout his ministry, he looked, instead, to bring comfort to others. You know the stories, I am sure. He hugged the leper no one else would touch… He stopped to have lunch with puny, despised Zacchaeus… He dignified the remorseful prostitute who washed his feet with her hair…  He was among us as one who serves (Luke 22:27).
Something else… something sublime… He accepted suffering in his life. Now, I ascribe to the creed that Jesus is the sinless Son of God. But somehow, in God’s wisdom, a key component of his growth on earth was to learn obedience through suffering (Hebrews 5:8). Do we really expect it to be different for any of us?
David and Daniel

I have two sons from my first marriage, Daniel and his younger brother, David. They both have mental health issues. I carry their suffering with me daily, and it can be something that manifests itself in the strangest of ways. Recently, I was climbing a staircase in the Miller Center for Communication Arts at Asbury University, part of a group discussing the university’s possible role in a future film project. The conversation turned to the accomplishments and hard work of the Asbury students, the bright futures before them; and God knows I want with all my heart for every young person to succeed and do well in life. But as I walked up the staircase in that beautiful building, I thought of those who can barely put one foot in front of another, people who are disabled; maimed; dispirited.

Closer to home, I found myself thinking of my sons and how hard it would be for them to climb these steps—literally and figuratively. The truth is neither of them will be “movers and shakers” in this world. They will not go to college. More than likely, they will never marry, or have a family, or profession. And I ask myself why. Why do some suffer while others go seemingly untouched?

Cry, the Beloved Country (1995)
As part of my research into the making of our South African film, Final Solution, I read (and pored over) the novel Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Those of you familiar with the book will know that it deals in part with the shared grief of two men—both of whom lost their sons. When I read the book the first time, grief over my firstborn son’s mental illness and desperate situation came forcefully to the surface. I cried many tears over the pages of that book. At the same time, there was a comfort in Mr. Paton’s writing, a melody of language not unlike that of a mother (so I imagine) singing over an injured child. I recall the words of James Jarvis to his counterpart in the novel, Stephen Kumalo, “I have never thought that a Christian would be free of suffering, umfundisi. For our Lord suffered. And I have come to believe that he suffered, not to save us from suffering, but to teach us how to bear suffering. For he knew that there is no life without suffering.”
C.S. Lewis said this: “God whispers to us in our pleasures… but shouts in our pains. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
So, then, dear friends… How shall we live? When faced with the pain and suffering of others, will we have a shepherd’s heart or that of a hireling? Will we reach out with compassion to those in distress, or seek to please ourselves?
I have two short videos to share with you. The first has me on-camera giving the backstory to our new film, The Puzzle Factory, a semi-autobiographical tale in which I seek to redeem the sufferings of my sons and the sufferings of their family. My prayer before God is that this film will bring hope and healing to the nations.
Click image to play. The video will play in a new window. Content is safe.
The second video is a “teaser-trailer” for The Puzzle Factory, designed to spark your curiosity. Don’t confuse it with the movie trailer, which will be put together after The Puzzle Factory is produced.
Click image to play. The video will play in a new window. The required password is TPF. Content is safe.

I close with these words from the psalmist, David, “written to the tune of a dove on distant oaks.” David understood God’s goodness and mercy. “You keep track of all my sorrows,” he said (or sang) to God. “You have collected my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8)

Feeling alone in the crowd? Unnoticed, uncared for? Go to the shepherd, my friend—the Good Shepherd. He sees and understands all things. And one day, we, too, will understand.

With much love and affection,
P.S. Feel free to reply to this email with your comments. I read each one!

See Final Solution on Amazon Prime!

Set against the backdrop of apartheid, the film tells the true story of Gerrit Wolfaardt. As South Africa's first-ever democratic elections draw near, will Gerrit's pleas for reconciliation win the day, or is more bloodshed inevitable? 

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Cristóbal Krusen is a filmmaker and author. He founded Messenger Films in 1988.

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