Romans 12:15-16a, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.”
Luke 13:11-13, “...and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, ‘Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.’ Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.”
Empathy is a combination of two Greek words, em and pathos. When placed together, they mean “in feeling.” Empathy involves understanding the emotions, situations, thoughts, and attitudes of another person. It takes great emotional capacity to place yourself in another person’s position and participate in their feelings. It is a deeper feeling than sympathy because it comes from a place of understanding, from a willingness to feel what others feel.
When Jesus came to earth as a man, He lived in human skin. He suffered as we suffer, and He experienced pain as we experience pain. Knowing Jesus suffered relationally, emotionally, and physically brings assurance. He empathizes with us. So, if you are suffering today, you are not alone. Jesus has felt your pain, He will guide you. Suffering can be a way of finding connection with Jesus and showing the love of Jesus to others.
Empathy is a cognitive process; we can choose to engage. In Luke 13, Jesus was surrounded by a crowd, but He saw a woman who was suffering, and He called out to her. He was moved internally and externally. And when He reached out to her, she was healed. His intentional touch showed respect, love and the compassion of her Savior.
Many of us can relate to the woman who was suffering. How has Jesus freed you from weight of your burdens? To develop empathy, put yourselves in the shoes of someone else today. Treat Extend the same compassion and respect that you hope to receive from others.
God, help me to recognize the suffering of others. Allow me to relate to others and meet their needs the way You would. Amen.