Daily Dose, Sept. 21

Most, probably all, of us have been on the giving or receiving end of empathy. It can be short-lived or life-long. It is a deeply intimate experience of relationship. It can be as simple as the comfort and encouragement of a father to his son after the son got the final out in a big game and caused his team to lose. It can be the friend who sits with you, no words needed, after your miscarriage. It can come from the sister or brother who is always there for you in life's ups and downs. You may even be that person. I'd like to suggest that God Himself is the Great Empathizer. There are many, many examples of God in this role in the Old Testament, but what is missing is Him having walked in our shoes. Then comes Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us! He was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin. He experienced profound sadness and betrayal and abandonment by his hometown and his closest best friends. He experienced the death of a close friend and the deep sadness of that man's grieving family, and He wept! He took on all our sin on the cross, carrying that heavy load of guilt and shame for me and for you. He can empathize with us in our guilt and shame and in every trial and difficulty that we face. Paul tells us that we are to comfort and empathize with each other in 1 Corinthians 1:3-4. We can do this because we have been comforted and empathized with by the Comforter and Empathizer Himself. I think it would be good for us to spend some time reflecting on all those times when He has empathized with us, including when we have grappled with sin, shame and guilt, and also those in our lives who need empathy now. Pray and thank about if and how you can empathize with them and maybe even introduce them to the Empathizer through what He has done for you. Jane