Being there (3)
When we’re trying to be there for someone, we can be sympathetic or we can go one step further and be empathetic. While sympathy shows compassion and kindness, empathy provides understanding. Empathy is putting ourselves into their shoes. Walking the pain with them. And true empathy can only come from having gone through the same, or similar, experience. Throughout the Bible, we’re reminded that Jesus faced suffering. He had to face temptation from the devil, grief over the death of His friend Lazarus, He was betrayed by His friend and He had to die on the cross. So when we’re facing temptation, loneliness, grief, betrayal or death, we know that Jesus has been there before us. He understands. He’s walked in our shoes. And He will be there through it all. The Bible says that God ‘comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.’ The things we have to go through can be used to help other people. We may be desperate for God to take the situation away from us, but He can bring something good from it. ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose’ (Romans 8:28 NIV). Sometimes that something good is the fact that we can be there for someone else who’s facing the same situation. So when we’re going through hard times, we can remember that not only does Jesus fully understand how we’re feeling, but that we’re also being equipped to be the best people to ‘be there’ for others.
Think of a tough time you’ve had to face. Write down any encouragement you had from others and things that God may have told you. If you come across someone who’s going through a similar thing, get out what you’ve written and share the encouragement with them.