(sumpathes -suffer with, be compassionate)
1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
Can you “feel it in your gut” when a brother or sister is suffering?
Peter writes that harmony means “being sympathetic towards one another.” When your fellow Christian sister goes through difficult times, knowing that you feel that pain right along with them gives them great comfort.
I have to ask myself, “Am I coming to God and presenting my sister’s need as though it were my own? Do I shed tears or feel grief on behalf of someone else? Am I willing to feel “unsettled” because of her pain?”
Being sympathetic in prayer is one way to love one another. The way we talk to God about our fellow brother or sister’s pain can tell us a great deal about the level of our sympathy. Another way to love one another is to talk with someone when you know they are suffering. We all wonder, “What should I say? How should I act around them?”
It might help to think about how you would like to be treated when you are in pain. I know everyone in our family expresses suffering very different from each other. One, simply wants their basic needs met and prefers to have time just being left alone. Another, wants more and regular “attentiveness” even if that just means checking in on them. Still another, wants someone to stay close and “suffer” (linger) with them – they want to feel the physical presence of someone they know, love and trust. If you don’t know someone well enough to pick up on their preferences, you may need to ask. And then, maybe it’s not about words. I think people know when you care and are honestly concerned.
Here’s a tip. Rather than saying, “if you need anything let me know.” come up with a simple way to express your love and just do it. Send them some flowers, a heartfelt card or maybe a meal. Folks going through tough times rarely ask for help. Sometimes the suffering ones just assume their close friends will know what they need. In being sympathetic, put some actions to your love.
I know there are plenty of non-huggers out there. Honestly, a hug or even a double-handed handshake can go a long way to communicate when there are no words. A quick phone call or even a text message to say, “I was thinking about you and want to let you know I’m praying” will go a long way for a hurting soul.
Prayer: Jesus, help me to not only see when my sister or brother is in pain but help me to put myself in their shoes, to feel what they feel – that should help my prayers to be more effective and my care to be more authentic. And help me be creative to actively serve them as well.
Next week – Hospitable