Are you familiar with the power of “presence” in the life of another person? Just being there can make all of the difference in the world to another individual who needs comfort and friendship.
The apostle John asked, “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (1 John 3:17). Pity in this verse is related to empathy, and both require action. As Christians we are commanded to love our neighbor and to have intense love for fellow believers (Matthew 22:39; 1 Peter 4:8). Though we intend to love one another, we often miss opportunities to relieve others’ pain. That could be because we are unaware of others’ needs; or perhaps we are not practicing empathy. Empathy is the key that can unlock the door to our kindness and compassion.
There are several examples of empathy in action in the Bible. Jesus was always sensitive to the plight of others. Matthew tells us how Jesus, “when he saw the crowds, . . . had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). On another occasion, Jesus observed a widow about to bury her only son. Sensing her pain (the NLT says that Jesus’ “heart overflowed with compassion”), He approached the funeral procession and resurrected the young man.
The word compassion describes the deep mercy of God. God is the very best at empathy: “He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). He personally feels the pain of His people: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT).
Where and with whom do you need to be “present” today?