Sympathy Kindles Agony
Whether we show sympathy towards others or not, we expect people to sympathize with us when we face some problem. When someone sympathizes with our cause, it gives us an immense sense of satisfaction, allowing us to forget our problems for a while. Our problems still persist and we are only ignorant of its existence.
Sometimes, even when we are aware of its existence, we fail to search for a remedy with the satisfaction we derive from our sympathizers. Sooner or later, we should realize that those sympathies won’t bring out any solution but would rather aggravate our agony during our problems.
Rewards for Sympathizers
Bible encourages us to show sympathy to the underprivileged, promising rewards such as deliverance, protection, sustenance, and restoration.
Blessed are those who have regard for the weak; the LORD delivers them in times of trouble.The LORD protects and preserves them — they are counted among the blessed in the land—he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.The LORD sustains them on their sickbed and restores them from their bed of illness.Psalms 41:1-3
Most of the time, we do not adhere to the word but still wait for the outcome in vain. The Bible has a specific instance to prove how the above promises are fulfilled. Acts 9:36-42 has captured one such occasion to show us how a person who sympathizes towards the poor will be rewarded. The grace of God goes to the extent of sustaining benevolent Dorcas even after her death. When Peter raised her from the dead he was merely an instrument in the hands of our Lord, who rewards people who have regard for the weak and the downtrodden.
The life that Dorcas lived on this earth made her worthy of His grace, and she got a second chance. We all have only one life span on this earth but do we spend our lives to make it worthy of His grace so that we may also enter into His Kingdom with eternal life?
Resisting Fake Sympathizers
The Bible talks about another woman who never listened to her sympathizers but stuck to her goal at all times. When Hannah did not have children, Elkana, her husband, showed special favour to her out of sympathy. Yet Hannah did not yield to her husband and guarded herself against becoming a piteous woman. At the end she realised that she had the attention of God and had gained His sympathy.
Elkanah had children through Peninnah, and he did not have any pain of being childless. With the joy of having children, he could not understand the pain of Hannah. When Elkanah was not exposed to the pain that Hannah was going through, giving his false consolation was worthless to her.
Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit?Luke 6:39
Elkanah tried to convince Hannah by telling her that she is equal to ten sons. Elkanah placed Hannah above his ten children, but she was longing to be a mother to at least one child. Hannah’s determination to derive her heart’s desire was not quenched by the sympathy shown by her husband. If she would have been prone to her husband’s fake empathy, she would not have prayed fervently to receive the gift of a child from God.
When we do not commit to what we desired and are wavered by the consolation of lip sympathizers, we may not be able to acquire faith to ask what we ought to ask and will be weeping all the time. The world cannot give us what we desire but can very well trap us with the thirst for our desires. The world can not provide us the money we need, but it can make us money-minded. The world can not heal us from our disease, but it can make us vulnerable to continuous treatments. But when we are disturbed because of people’s provoking, and do not yield to their sympathies, Holy Spirit will minister to us.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.Romans 8:26
Hannah was on the one hand, provoked by Peninnah and on the other hand consoled by Elkanah, yet she did not distort from her focus. Because of her agony, she was unable to put her petition in words as she did not know how to pray even though she was clear about what she should pray. In that hopeless situation, the Holy Spirit ministered to her through wordless groaning that was misunderstood by Eli, the priest.
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.1 Samuel 1:10
Empathize Other’s Problems
We have to resist the habit of expecting false empathy to reach our destination. When we yield to other’s sympathy, we may not pray in the manner that we ought to pray. Satan uses people to show pity on us, and we miss out on God, who pities us. He, who had suffered in every way as we are suffering in this world, can comfort us during our trials and tribulations.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.Hebrews 2:18
When we are forsaken, Jesus can understand our pain because He was forsaken and hung on the cross all alone. When we go through sickness, no one can understand our emotions except Jesus, who bore every sickness of ours. If we are troubled, Jesus is the only one who can understand us as His Spirit was troubled in the garden of Gethsemane.
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. 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.Hebrews 4:15-16
God teaches us to show sympathy towards others, and sometimes allows us to go through pain to understand other’s pain so that we may sympathetically pray for their remedy. At the same time, we should expect God to show His compassion to us rather than expecting pity from others.