Skip to main content

Sympathy vs Empathy

As I sit alone in my home, feeling poorly because of whatever cooties are coursing through my body, I realized I was having a pity party. Feeling sorry for yourself is such a useless endeavor and yet we always seem to go there as if it is a profitable enterprise. We know we will not derive the tiniest bit of benefit but we go there. Why? Because, "Ah! It hurts so good!'

You know how your mind sort of skips around when you're feverish? Like you cannot quite hold on to a cogent thought but you can't keep yourself from thinking? Perhaps I am the only one who suffers from this phenomenon, but when I am feverish my mind whirls and skips in slow motion. I decided I would try to concentrate on something profound rather than feel sorry for myself. Here's what I came up with.

One of the books I am reading is "The Heart of the Cross," by John Montgomery Boice and Philip Graham Ryken. It's a small book and an easy read but it is packed with things that my heart needs to hear and grapple with. One of the things that came to mind while feeling sorry for myself for being sick is a paragraph from the book on Christ:

The forsaking of the Son of God on the cross is a fearful thing, but it is good news for sinners who repent. It is good news because it means that when you meet Jesus Christ at the cross you are meeting someone who has experienced the full measure of the tragedy of human existence. Out of his own experience of physical suffering and spiritual rejection, Jesus not only sympathizes with your pain, he empathizes too.

Hmmm. Empathy and sympathy. Did you know that the word empathy has only been around since the early 1900's with the introduction of modern psychology? Sure, it has its derivation from a Greek word, but we can thank the Germans for its modern use although we don't seem to use it as it was originally intended.

Empathy is a difficult term to define. It's like trying to catch fog in a jar. You can see fog, you can know that it is there and it has form and substance but you cannot hold it and you can't take a glass jar and scoop it up. Sympathy is not so difficult as it has been used a long time. Aristotle was familiar with it. He used the term sympathy and it has been around ever since. Sympathy is the ability to relate to what someone is experiencing because we have been there and done that. Empathy is the ability to project or imagine how someone would feel although you have not experienced the same thing.

The modern ideas of empathy and sympathy aside, it is a blessing to realize that my Savior is not unfamiliar with my emotions nor is he unaware of the frailty of my human condition. Whether lounging on the couch feeling sorry for myself or wrestling with my flesh, Christ has met my needs with his life, death and resurrection. He is the one upon whom my hope rests. My peace with God is not the absence of conflict but the presence of hope, the hope of Christ, despite the conflicts that terrorize my soul.

A little further in the book Boice and Ryken write: "You are helpless, hopeless and unrighteous- unless, that is, you come to the cross to ask for the help, the hope, and the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Then the cross is full of the hope and help you need."

Now that's what my soul needs to hear. Can someone give me an amen and pass the antibiotics?

Comments

Lockheed said…
Love you Rozie, praying for you and hope you get better soon!
graceb4me said…
rozie-dear...
I love you, and am beside myself with worry...
well, maybe not beside myself, but I am concerned...but not so much so that I am questioning God's hand in your life...
*ahem*
:-D
(I hope that made you smile!)
miss you! can't wait to see you in channel again! See you soon :)

Popular posts from this blog

Procrastination- Propaganda- Profundity

When I am studying something that bothers me, I do just about anything I can to stall. In doing so I stumble upon a lot of odd information. I love history and any student of history will tell you that most everything we are familiar with has had an odd beginning. Sometimes there will be different odd stories regarding the genesis of a myth, folkway or idiom. Somewhere in the mix the truth can be found. You just have to look.

While I lived in Australia I went to a visit a little town on the Murray River called Echuca. Echuca has a wonderful history and boasts the largest collection of paddle steamers in the world. It also has a coach house and carriage museum. It was during my visit to the carriage museum that I was told the origin of the expression to 'drop off to sleep.' According the docent, the carriage cheap seats were the ones outside and on the back. You had a platform to sit on and a rope or rail to hang onto for dear life. During a long trip a poor unfortun…

Sleep Snorkel Surprise

Summer colds. Blech! Is there anything more annoying that being too hot and having your nose run like Bridalveil Fall? Probably but nothing comes to mind right now. My nose is red and raw from all the sneezing and blowing and I have been using Puff's. Imagine if I had some generic sandpaper tissue instead? I could probably die from the pain. Death by runny nose rough tissue rhinoplasty.
I went to bed very early last night because I was feeling miserable. I have sleep apnea and therefore sleep with a bipap machine that keeps from crumping in my sleep. Now, I love my little bipap machine. I got it after my near death experience a few years ago when the nurses in the ICU turned me in to the doctor because I never slept. Once I was released from the hospital they sent me for a sleep study. I had to do it twice because they wait for you to fall to sleep and monitor your breathing in order to decide if you need a machine. Generally they try different types of machines and differe…

Super Church a song for the Emergent-sy

In the early 70s I was in a youth choir at my church. Our youth pastor was a musician and his way of connecting with us as a group was through the choir and music. Somehow there was an affiliation between him and The Continental Singers, New Hope and Jeremiah People. He was worked with Moishe Rosen of Jews for Jesus too, I think. Are any of these names familiar to you? Though I remember the church fondly I was a profoundly lost and troubled young woman during my years there. That and time have muddled the memories quite a bit.

Today I was digging through some old paperwork and one of the books to the musical we did. It's Getting Late For the Great Planet Earth, a folk rock oratorio by Cam Floria. Yes, that's right. Cam Floria put Hal Lindsey to music. There's a lot to laugh about and some to groan about but as I was looking through the songs and remembering, I found this little ditty and I only wish I could sing it for you. Just remember that this is circa 1972 and even the…