Grieving While Black #7 – EMPATHY
Because our Heavenly Father wants us to become like Him, the challenges we face in this life can become learning opportunities if we will trust Him and stay on the path. Unfortunately, staying on the path can be particularly hard when we feel like we’re facing those trials on our own.
But we were never meant to walk the path alone. Jesus achieved perfect empathy, descending below all things so that He would know how to assist us in our afflictions.
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
What Is Empathy?
Empathy is understanding another person’s feelings, thoughts, and condition from their perspective, rather than our own. Being empathetic is important in our efforts to minister to others.
Can We develop Empathy? And if so How do we go about it?
- Understand: Empathy requires some understanding of another’s situation. The better we understand their circumstances, the easier it becomes to understand how they feel about it and what we can do to help.
- Imagine: Once we understand someone’s circumstances, each of us—whether it happens naturally or not—can go through the exercise of imagining what we would think or feel in that situation. Understanding those thoughts and emotions, along with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can help guide our response to their situation.
- Respond: How we respond is important because that is how our empathy shows. There are countless ways to communicate our understanding both verbally and nonverbally. It’s important to remember that our goal isn’t necessarily to fix the problem. Often the goal is simply to lift and to strengthen by letting them know they’re not alone.
- Act: As you consider the circumstances of those you minister to, imagine being in their situation and what you would find most helpful if you were in their shoes. Pray to understand how they feel and follow through. Your response may be simple, but it may be more meaningful.
On January 20th, 2008, then US president Barack Obama stood before a congregation in Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and said: “The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to stand in somebody else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes.”
Dehumanization- Racial Tension- Police Brutality- Gender Issues- Church Hurt- Grief- to Mask or Unmask!
Q: Are we losing empathy as a church community or have we already lost it?