Trying to understand another person well enough to enter into their feelings and help in any way we can is a special honor that we extend to very few people. We need each other just as soldiers need each other in a battle. The battle is often bigger than we are and having each other to lean on that have experienced the same journey as we have is such a huge gift. I have a few friends myself that I know I can lean on in a moment when it comes to hardships and grey areas of the Christian faith.
Experience is the only way to qualify for empathy. In order to enter into someone’s suffering, you must have suffered also. I have never lost a child, so there is no way for me to say I understand how one feels that has. I have lost close family members so I am able to support and say I know how you feel. We can feel sad for someone’s loss, but to truly know how they “feel” we must have some first-hand experience. We can listen and offer encouragement, and we can certainly pray for them because God’s empathy is always helpful. But we must always remember when we are near a person who is suffering unlike anything we have experienced we must be careful to not extend our empathy beyond our experiences.
When God allows suffering in our lives, it is so that we can lift up another person who will be going through the same thing. If we take a moment and think about the hardest times in our lives and remember who we have been able to lift up because of our suffering, we will see God allowed these events so that he can use us to support one another. So the next time life gets tough or the trial seems to be unbearable, take heart that God has a plan to use us in the future. And as we experience these trials God is stretching our ability to deepen our empathy beyond what we could ever imagine we would be able to experience.
Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. - Galatians 6:2
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. - Romans 12:15
Dear Lord, Give us a peace that passeth all understanding as we walk through trials that we don't understand. Let us feel your presence as life gets hard so that we know you are near to us so we are reminded of your promises to never leave us or forsake us. The hope to trust you more with every hardship and hurt this life has to offer.