Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sympathy

Many years ago, we led a small community group. It doesn't feel like it was that long ago, but the young couples with no children now have multiple children. That means it was almost a decade ago. Gee whiz, I'm getting old. Anyway... many years ago in that small group, we made deep friendships that still make us keenly aware of each other in this life. Nowadays we are spread out. One family in Oklahoma, one in Leeds, one in England, and then us in Springville. We are all over, but those early days of eating together and forgiving each other when our kids (ahem, my kids) would make a mess. They learned to parent by assisting us with our four and learning from our mistakes. I remembered to focus on my husband by watching these newly married women and their devotion to their men. It was a marvelous time. I look back on it very fondly. 

About a month ago, Melody (the one in Leeds) posted one post after another as each of her four little ones fell ill with fever. It wasn't all at the same time, but drawn out. One would perk up and another would fall. This resulted in weeks of sleeplessness and isolation for her. I prayed diligently for her because I remember when that was me and I felt all alone in the world. 

Over the last week or two, Michelle (in England) has kept us updated as one child after another has fallen ill. Ruptured ear drum, fever, colds... leaving her exhausted and lonely. Melody commented with a response that resonated with deep love and sympathy, having just begun to emerge from her own cave of maternal duties. The interaction, though small and seemingly mundane, has resonated in my heart. I keep going back to it. I think it is because I know that Melody's understanding of Michelle's situation is deeply personal having so recently experienced it. It was also because I know them. I know that her words were deep, heartfelt and tinged with grief that she could not be with Michelle in person. These are women who truly love each other and are separated by distance. I think is was also because there was a profound spiritual truth lurking at the edges of my mind.

Jon Piper said in his book 50 Why Reasons Jesus Came to Die, "A lifetime of temptation climaxing in spectacular abuse and abandonment gave Jesus an unparalleled ability to sympathize with tempted and suffering people... therefore, the Bible says he is able 'to sympathize with our weaknesses' (Hebrews 4:15). This is amazing. The risen Son of God in heaven at God's right hand with all authority over the universe feels what we feel when we come to him in sorrow or pain..."

When Chris read this passage to us in family worship time this morning, it all clicked for me. Just as I sympathized with Melody and as Melody sympathized with Michelle, Jesus sympathizes with us. He feels what we feel. He knows. This gives me such boldness in prayer. I don't irritate him or weary him with my prayers, any more than Melody rolled her eyes at Michelle's dilemma. No! He never tires of hearing us. The main difference though is that he CAN do something. Mel can't leave her 4 little ones and hop on a plane, no matter how badly she wants to. But Jesus, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, can comfort us. He can strengthen us. He gives life and hope and peace. 

What an amazing thought! We can never overburden Jesus. His arms are always ready to receive us and he does so with a heart bursting with sympathy and compassion. What wondrous love is this. My soul aches with it. 

1 comment:

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