I recently came across this little video on empathy. I have always sort of had a grasp of the difference between empathy and sympathy. But after watching this video again, I was convicted by how much of my ministry is characterized by sympathy. I am other, distant from the death and destruction that so surrounds my students' lives. I rarely am willing to climb down into the pit and simply identify with them and be with them.
Thankfully, this is not how God deals with us. In fact the entire ministry of Jesus was one of empathy. The incarnation was God's ultimate expression of empathy. And thankfully I am reminded that just as God has been empathetic with me and my garbage, I now get to take on the mantle of Jesus Christ and be empathetic with my students.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (NIV)
Jesus the Great High Priest
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 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. 16 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.