Lessons from "Loopy Land"
7. Ask God for genuine empathy.
I am not sure why the Lord allowed me to go through this ordeal. However, the one thing that I do know is that I did not have deep empathy for those who were suffering with illness. My wife was right. I was very shallow in that category. I got to see it, and feel it, as I experience the actions of others in my illness. Before, I had never been ill other than the usual cold or flu. I never knew what it was like to be in a situation where I was totally dependent upon others for my well-being. Now I know, and there's no replacement for that knowing.
I'm not saying that you have to get sick to minister well to the sick, though. Begin by asking God to help you empathize with those under your spiritual care.
I am still convinced that every church member should reach out and demonstrate compassion to the sick. However, each should do what God puts on their heart to do. Some should visit, some should call, some should send cards, etc. But all should act with empathy. As far as I am concerned, I will respond as the Lord leads. I am not the "hired gun." I am a man given a wonderful gift of empathizing with those in need.
And maybe that gift made my trip through Loopy Land worth it.
Eric W. Moore is an Assistant Professor in Pastoral Ministries at Moody Theological Seminary-Michigan. Along with his duties at MTS-Michigan, he is the Pastor and Co-founder of Tree of Life Bible Fellowship Church of Southfield, Mich.
Copyright © 2013 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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