“God comforts us in order to make us comfort-able—able to comfort others.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 30, 2021
By Guest Writer: Sharon Jaynes
And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32, NKJV
Chris, one of my friends, was in a seminary class when someone raised his hand and asked the professor: “What is your best advice on how to be a good pastor?” “Empathy,” the professor replied. “Have empathy.” Then Chris raised his hand. “How do you get empathy?”
With a trace of sad knowing in his eyes, the wise older man replied, “Suffer.” Chris understood.
One of the greatest ways God puts to use what He puts us through or what we’ve put ourselves through is by creating in us a deeper sense of compassion than we would have ever known without the trauma. The word compassion is derived from the Latin words pati and cum, meaning “to suffer with.” Compassion for brokenness comes from brokenness. There’s really no other way.
When we hold the hands of weary friends, not as people who can fix their problems, but as people who understand their pain and “suffer with” them, it gives them comfort. I’ll walk through this with you. I get it. I may not understand the particulars of your struggle, but I do understand disappointment and heart-wrenching pain. Only when we have experienced our own disappointment can we sympathize with the disappointment of others.
“Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8-9).
One of my greatest gifts from the loss of our child was a deeper compassion for women who struggle with infertility and loss. No one in my family had ever died before in my lifetime except my grandma, but her death was expected because she was old. However, when my baby died, that was not expected. When she died, something else in me was born—a deep-seated compassion for those who have prayed for years but not received the hoped-for reply, for the women whose dreams became nightmares, and for women who wanted answers but got none.
The word translated “comfort” in this verse is the Greek word parakalōn. It comes from the root words para and kaleo, which mean “to call near, to invite, invoke.” When we tell our stories to someone who is hurting, we come near to them and our words comfort them in a way that empty platitudes and easily recited Bible verses cannot.
When we say, “Let me tell you what I’ve gone through,” or “Let me tell you how I’ve failed,” the hearer no longer feels isolated and alone in her struggle. Suppose there is someone who understands. Suppose you are that someone, and you need to tell your story. When you share the comfort that you have experienced in your struggles, when you’re honest and vulnerable with the facts, it lets the hearer believe there is hope for a better story. God doesn’t comfort us just to make us comfortable. He comforts us in order to make us comfort-able—able to comfort others. When we keep our stories to ourselves, we deny others the comfort that is ours to give.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3–4, emphasis added).
Heavenly Father, grow my heart of empathy to reflect Your heart of empathy, through Christ’s love and in Jesus’ name, amen.
Who can I express empathy to who is hurting and in need of a healing heart?
Check out Sharon’s new book, When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories
Carrie Underwood- Softy and Tenderly
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