Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.
Recently, I was in a circumstance where God spoke to me in a powerful way. It all started with a feeling I experienced that seemed foreign to me — it was not pleasant or enjoyable. It took me a moment, and then I realized what I was going through was a very real and familiar feeling to someone that is very close to me. I was instantly shocked, surprised and sad. I had a whole new understanding for what this person was going through and how they felt. It wasn’t until I had a vulnerable conversation with them that I could confirm this was true. As sad as I was I also felt grateful. I would have rather experienced these feelings than gone on oblivious. It wasn’t easy, but I gained perspective that strengthened that relationship immensely. It was a turning point for me personally as well.
It’s amazing what perspective can bring. It helps us understand each other but it also helps us to know that someone understands our feelings. As I was thinking through this aforementioned epiphany, it struck me: God knows how I feel.
Jesus experienced humanity. He lived here on earth and knows what it feels like to be human because He was human. Positive feelings (Luke 10:21), negative feelings (John 11:35 & 38), He experienced the whole range of human emotion. Jesus understands, and that changes everything in regard to how I understand God. He is not far away and distant but in this way very near.
“Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 (MSG)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Galatians 6:2 (NIV)
The law of Christ is the example He gave us. To understand each other is to share in this law and foster true relationship and community. It requires a vulnerability that is sometimes uncomfortable and requires personal sacrifice. God doesn’t simply feel sorry for us or pity us (which is the definition of sympathy), He connects our sorrow and pain with that which He experienced on the cross and in living here on earth (which is the definition of empathy). He shares true joy, true sorrow, true grief, and true surprise with us. Empathy is recalling those feelings and experiencing them again to share them with someone, to carry or bear them together. Here is the part that we don’t understand most of the time; we cannot have empathy with someone if we never experience the emotion they experience. This is part of Jesus’ mission and indeed why I believe God’s plan for salvation was executed the way that it was. Our high priest knows and understands.
So my prayer for you is this: that you would allow God to show you a new perspective. That we would understand each other more and carry each other’s burdens. That we would allow ourselves to feel real joy and real pain. That we would help each other by understanding and being present and that we would allow each other to help in this way as well.