Category Archives: Empathy

The incredible vanishing act

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.

Do not say to your neighbour,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.

– Proverbs 3:27-28

Do you ever struggle to give enough to others while trying to take care of yourself?

I used to find it easier to offer my time and love and energy to people. Increasingly, it has become more of an effort, particularly when my own life started to unravel. Perhaps I was spreading myself too thin or perhaps I needed to receive some energy and empathy from others.

The danger of offering empathy and support to loved ones is that they start to expect it from you every time they hit a wall. And while I don’t want to let them down, I find that it’s exhausting at times. Especially when the unexpected happened in my own life and I found myself in need of support too.

Sadly, a show of vulnerability is when many people will disappear. Prayers and well wishes may be widely on offer in our churches, but empathy not so much.

A kind word costs a moment on the lips, but empathy requires our heart and soul too. And that’s where many will draw their line. “I don’t have enough time.” “I’m not a good listener.” “That’s the pastor’s / reverend’s / minister’s job”.

The Lord urges us not to withhold good where we can offer it and many of us have the capacity to offer empathy if only we would try. We have the right ingredients – a caring heart, a desire to encourage and uplift others and the experience of being cared for and loved by our own Father. We have ears to listen and the same amount of time in the day as everyone else around us.

If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one – Mother Teresa

Let’s not withhold the extra effort we can give to our neighbours. Let’s donate some time and energy to others who need it, so they can be replenished and do the same for others. Let’s share the burden between us, rather than focus only on our own load.

Just ten minutes of empathy can make a difference to someone’s life. It can even be the difference between life and death. (Click to tweet)

When was the last time you offered empathy and offered to walk partway with someone through their pain for ten minutes? Is the Lord nudging your heart to someone in particular?

It’s not complicated

empathy in the bible

What the vulnerable need most

Empathy For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15

When I offer vulnerability to others, I hope and pray for empathy in return.

Just as it requires courage to be vulnerable, the act of empathy demands the strongest of hearts. Perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to come by.

Empathy is when someone walks with you, sits with you and feels with you as you wrestle with the turmoil inside. It is when someone steps inside your pain, so that they can better understand what it is you are going through.

Empathy doesn’t fix, advise, patronise, pity, judge or condemn. Instead, it listens and lays aside personal pride and self-righteousness. Empathy accepts, but doesn’t always agree. It comforts, but doesn’t always condone.

Empathy is compassion and truth combined. (Click to tweet)

Just as Christ is with us in our suffering, can we also learn how to be with others in their pain?

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