by Annette Meyer
Empathy: Being able to say ‘I KNOW your pain. I have been where you are in my own life and I understand the place where this pain is coming from. How can I help?’
This week I joined an online Study group that is using the book “The Broken Way” as a guide. There are over 23,000 people signed up for this 6 week study! During this first week many of the participants, while introducing themselves to the group, are sharing a list of the harshest of struggles that have brought them to this point.
So many hurting people, knowing they can’t continue this way any longer are desperately seeking answers. Many of them do not recognize the necessity for a spiritual advocate. Often they come in desperation, hoping for guidance through discussion and to find a pathway to healing. Healing for most of these wounds can only be accomplished through fundamental lifestyle changes.
I would venture to say that most every result of sin, disease and heartache is present in some way within this group. The struggle is real!
The witness of just how wounded and broken this group of seekers is shines forth in such a widespread variety of details shared in their immensely painful testimonies. Whether self-inflicted, intentionally or unintentionally wounded by others, or the inheriting of diseases, the constant replication of brokenness is obvious.
This plethora of anguish that presently exists in this struggling world was not intended at creation. However, from the first deception of mankind in the Garden of Eden, this present turmoil has remained. Yahweh allows it to be passed down into our human lives to be used to meet His ultimate goal: to bring us into a place where the hand of the Father can reach to teach us His plan as we mature into the deepest, purest Faith relationship with Him. He promises to lift us up, to gather us unto Himself when we wholeheartedly seek to place Him at the center of our very being.
This world’s brokenness came about because the adversary is not a creator, he is a twister! He takes things that are meant by Our Father for our good and twists them through acts of deception into negative, dysfunction-filled circumstances designed to hinder us in our positive, healthy spiritual growth.
We humans are all in different levels of dysfunction, but what do we do with any hope we have received along our own broken journey? Shouldn’t we be reaching in to share and minister to the needs of every other person around?
Our Messiah lived an example of compassion, sympathy, and empathy in his earthly lifetime. Seeing the brokenness in His world, He understood the root of it came from the deceiver. He literally felt their pain, and He responded with what His Father instructs; acts of kindness, gentleness, speaking healing words. Through provision, He gave a hands-on example of involvement that brought hope to so many in His immediate vicinity. Word quickly spread of this amazing man who was making a huge difference, bringing a different message to the masses, poor and rich alike. Others in turmoil were quickly drawn by the message of hope and healing that He shared! The ripples of His efforts continue right on down the span of time to you and me today!
Evil came against Him repeatedly, yet He rebuked the adversary at every turn, continued His ministering, speaking strongly into the pain and dysfunction. His empathy remained strong; enduring in the purpose of His intended message. Until His very last breath He felt incredible pain; that of every person who ever lived on earth. His pure blood was shed for our healing!
His persecuted broken lifeless body was defeated; the broken flesh was buried. His faithful followers were crushed down by these unthinkable circumstances.
Then Yahweh said “Surprise!” The Messiah was raised into total victory as prophesied. The people who couldn’t see it while it was happening now saw clearly that had been the plan all along! The evil intended by the twister was destroyed. The promise of the Creator was completed.
Empathy is a constant theme in Our Messiah’s message. We are told even while dwelling in our own brokenness, we are to connect to the pain of others, reach out to that struggling neighbor, whether friend or foe, to minister to the needs of those near and far, to listen to the desperate outcries and respond in His Love!
Almost 20 years ago in the darkest season of my life I was given several songs to inspire, encourage, and enlighten me as I journeyed into healing from brokenness. I am regularly reminded in one verse that He teaches me to show empathy for others at all times.
Reaching out my hand to others serve,
He gives me strength
when I don’t have the nerve,
To wipe away the tears and share the pain,
Helping those trodden down
to rise up again!