Give me a word, Lord: EMPATHY

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 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.

Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Galatians 6:2-3 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. This involves not just actively listening to what someone says, but truly hearing what they are saying. That sounds silly, but it’s so important. How often do we listen, but not really hear? How often do we just nod and say uh-huh, but then minutes later we don’t even remember what the person was saying?

To be empathetic, we must train ourselves to be active listeners. I remember back in my early years of school while training to be a family nurse practitioner, I wrote down every thing I heard. In class, I wrote down everything the instructors said. Oh yes, I had some awesome notes. When I began seeing patients in clinicals, I wrote down everything the patient said while interviewing them. I was afraid I would forget something important. A very wise physician who was precepting me said, “stop writing down everything. Just listen and remember what they say.” That was probably some of the best advice I received while in school. I then had to retrain myself to listen and remember. I had to pay attention to not just what the patient was saying, but how they were saying it. Instead of writing notes, I was looking eye to eye with the patient. They had my full attention. I learned to not just hear what the patient said, but rather to feel what they were saying.

A whole lot of people are hurting right now for a countless number of reasons. As christians, we are to show compassion for others and comfort those going through troubled waters. Giving advice isn’t always the answer. When feeling troubled, people aren’t always looking to others for answers. Sometimes they just need to know that they are being heard and know that someone cares. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Today I challenge you to be empathetic. Look, listen, and hear what those around you are saying. We are all carrying a few burdens of our own, but how nice would it be to lighten someone else’s burdens today. Don’t try to solve the problems of the world. (I’m so guilty of this one.) Rather be a comforter. Show compassion. Love as Christ loves. Be empathetic! Point others to Christ by showing His love and compassion to this hurting world!

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