THE POWER OF EMPATHY
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within their frame of reference, that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Definitions of empathy encompass a broad range of emotional states.
Definition of empathy -Merriam-Webster
The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner
We all have the capacity to empathize but we do not have the ability. It is more difficult for the extroverts because the primary goal if more of action.
Empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of others. It is the fulfilment of “love thy neighbour as thyself”. Matthew 22:39
This is the oil that lubricate the engine of relationship. All your efforts will become more fruitful if empathy is cultivated.
We cannot discover it by the road side, we do not acquire or develop it as we grow neither pray to collect if from the Father, we must cultivate it in our own garden.
We shall see some examples from the bible.
Jesus is our perfect example.
Joh 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Jesus had and still has the power to raise the dead and He did. Why did He weep? To empathize with Mary and Martha
His weeping was not out of weakness or destitution of what to do but He empathize with the women. When Jesus
Wept, the people said,” Behold how he loved him!” the empathy that Jesus demonstrated made the Jews to see the love of Jesus for Lazarus.
You might have been helping in different ways and areas and you are always that the people you are suffering for do not reciprocate or even show as if they see your love.
All these are happening because you need the lubricating oil of empathy.
Mar 8:1 In those days the multitude being very great, and having nothing to eat, Jesus called his disciples unto him, and saith unto them, 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far. 4 And his disciples answered him, From whence can a man satisfy these men with bread here in the wilderness? 5 And he asked them, How many loaves have ye? And they said, Seven. 6 And he commanded the people to sit down on the ground: and he took the seven loaves, and gave thanks, and brake, and gave to his disciples to set before them; and they did set them before the people. 7 And they had a few small fishes: and he blessed, and commanded to set them also before them. 8 So they did eat, and were filled: and they took up of the broken meat that was left seven baskets. 9 And they that had eaten were about four thousand: and he sent them away.
The disciples had sympathy for the people. If you read the story from Matthew chapter fifteen, you will see that they recommended that Jesus should dispatch the crowd. Jesus went beyond sympathy, He allowed His empathy to work when He stated the obvious, “ 2 I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now been with me three days, and have nothing to eat: 3 And if I send them away fasting to their own houses, they will faint by the way: for divers of them came from far”. Mar 8
Sympathy can bring compassion but empathy is the mother of it. Empathy made Jesus to know that if the people were sent home without food, they could faint on the way.
It was empathy that gave birth to sympathy and the miracle of multiplication of food came.
If you will empathize with the people, around you, then, you will tell them about the impending doom and you will also force your way to help them solve their problem.
Joab touched the button of empathy in the heart of David in the case of Absalom when he sent the widow to David.
Nathan touched the button of the heart of David when he told him about the story of a man with only one sheep in the case of the sin of David.
2Sa 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: 3 But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 4 And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. 5 And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the LORD liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die: 6 And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. :7 And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I anointed thee king over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul; 8 And I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives into thy bosom, and gave thee the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would moreover have given unto thee such and such things. 9 Wherefore hast thou despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in his sight? thou hast killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and hast taken his wife to be thy wife, and hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon. 10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from thine house; because thou hast despised me, and hast taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be thy wife. 11 Thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will raise up evil against thee out of thine own house, and I will take thy wives before thine eyes, and give them unto thy neighbour, and he shall lie with thy wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.
By the time Nathan woke up the empathy in the heart of David, he realized the gravity of his sins and he went to God with heart felt repentance.
Today we need to empathize with our spouses, children, parents, brothers and sister, and our neighbours.
Empathy is the mother of compassion and it will always spur you to action.
So, my dearly beloved, sit down, think and strategize on how to grow empathy. God has given you the capacity but you must develop the ability.