We ALL want it.
Today is Day #33 for me to be in Santiago, Chile.
Yes, as I mentioned two weeks ago, I’m thinking in Spanish, but that doesn’t mean I understand everything that’s being said and felt here.
My ears strain to listen well.
My brain is tired at the end of the day.
I find it’s a lot easier to ignore conversations taking place in a language not your own.
But how loving is that? I’m glad God didn’t take the easy route of ignoring.
One of my favorite verses in the whole Bible is Hebrews 4:15.
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. (NIV)
Jesus is not unable to empathize. That means He’s very able to empathize.
Just last month, we celebrated Jesus, the Son of God, coming to be with us. Jesus, our great high priest, was not just able to empathize—He was willing to empathize.
And I want to be like Jesus.
Think about it. God, the Creator of all had every right to stay in cozy, glorious Heaven, and to not be inconvenienced one bit by His creation who chose (and continues to choose) to disobey Him. Yet He came to meet us, listen to us, feel for us, and give of His life for us.
Here’s what I know:
We ALL want to be heard.
We ALL want to be understood.
(Maybe these desires come from being made in the image of our God who also wants to be heard and understood.)
Here’s what else I know:
We don’t always do our best to hear and understand others.
We tend to attend more self-pity parties than compassion parties.
Even as Christians, we often live as if empathy were optional.
Is this another “Go be a Missionary” blog post?
Not necessarily, even though being a missionary is awesome.
What does it mean to empathize?
In the original Greek language, the word “empathize” is sumpatheó, and it means to sympathize with, to have compassion on, or to have a fellow feeling with.
Jesus sympathizes with, has compassion on, and has a “fellow feeling” with our weaknesses.
In the original Greek language, the word “weakness” is astheneia, and it means weakness, illness, suffering, calamity, or frailty.
For the past 32 days, I have been living in a culture that does not have the opportunities, wealth, and privileges that surround me and “my people” in Small Town, U.S.A. The people on the poor side of the tracks in Chile face “weaknesses” I’ll probably never face. As much as I’ve tried, I can’t say I’ve “walked in their shoes,” because I know that shortly, I’ll return to my safe, comfy, temperature-controlled home. At best, I can say that I’ve “tried on their shoes for a moment.”
I’ve tried my best to learn and speak their language.
I’ve tried my best to listen, feel, and understand them.
I’ve tried to be wise about verbalizing the many annoying questions I want to ask daily.
I’ve tried to not judge.
I’m humbled, and for the poor and suffering, I see first-hand that empathy is the only God-honoring option.
And this all makes me wonder:
What would it look like to see Christlike empathy as your only God-honoring option toward:
Your friends and family members?
Your boss and coworkers?
I’ve had to ask myself:
Do I always try my best to learn and speak my husband’s language?
Do I always try my best to listen, feel, and understand him?
Do I always try my best not to judge my boss or coworkers?
Do I always try to be wise about my words that could annoy my friends and family members?
What I’m experiencing these past 32 days is similar to a short-term missions trip. I can humble myself and be empathetic for this limited period of time. But am I willing to live a lifetime of unlimited empathy toward everyone around me?
I can’t tell You how grateful I am that You left the comfort of Heaven to come be with, listen to, feel for, understand, and give Your life for us. You demonstrated pure humility and empathy to us. Help us to live the very same way—especially around those we often take for granted. Amen.
Philippians 2:5-8 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. (NLT)
James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (NLT)