“I can’t be used unless I’m broken. What am I?” The answer, of course, is an egg. A simple egg holds such profound truth!
To have empathy, you must have life experience – the hard knocks of walking on this planet. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of someone else because you can relate to what they are experiencing. Empathy is much different than sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for another person’s sorrow or misfortune. When you encounter someone, who is in a ditch and you feel sorrow and sadness for them, that’s sympathy. When you take action and hop into the ditch with them, that’s empathy – you are identifying with their situation. The encouraging words spoken by a person who identifies with your situation because they also have suffered, will always change your perspective and carry more weight. Their words are authentic and encouraging.
Each of us has been broken in some fashion or another. It is through our brokenness that we become useful to God and to humanity. Speaking from my own experience, I’m not sure that I would have a grateful attitude had I not experienced the deep pain and loss in my life. I am actually thankful that my experiences have helped me to grow more compassionate and empathetic towards others. “Social scientists are uncovering the benefits of generous living. Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson, authors of The Paradox of Generosity, note, “By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact.” http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/november-web-only/generous-soul-overcoming-scrooge-gratitude.html
Empathy points to something that only originates in God: love. We understand it best when it is grounded in the biblical concept of God’s love. We know that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The love of God was “made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
Jesus came to earth to live among us. His name Emmanuel means just that. Just like a simple egg that must be broken to be useful, we are told in scripture that Jesus was broken so that we may be useful and whole. We have a Savior Who has empathy for us. We are told that Jesus shares all of our sorrows, and He understands because He experienced great sorrow.
Let your heart be filled with gratitude today and each and every day because Jesus has overcome this world and He is Emmanuel – God with us!
Isaiah 53 (NLT)
53 Who has believed our message?
To whom has the Lord revealed His powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance,
nothing to attract us to Him.
3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses He carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed Him down.
And we thought His troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for His own sins!
5 But He was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on Him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet He never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
He did not open His mouth.
8 Unjustly condemned,
He was led away.[b]
No one cared that He died without descendants,
that His life was cut short in midstream.[c]
But He was struck down
for the rebellion of my people.
9 He had done no wrong
and had never deceived anyone.
But He was buried like a criminal;
He was put in a rich man’s grave.
10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush Him
and cause Him grief.
Yet when His life is made an offering for sin,
He will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in His hands.
11 When He sees all that is accomplished by His anguish,
He will be satisfied.
And because of His experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for He will bear all their sins.
12 I will give Him the honors of a victorious soldier,
because He exposed Himself to death.
He was counted among the rebels.
He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.