The Orlando nightclub shooting was a sobering reminder of how much pain and suffering there is in this world. People are hurting.
And as Christians, we take encouragement that this world, though our temporary residence, is not our home. This is not all there is. God has offered to us all eternal life, salvation from this world to life in the next.
Yet in our times of need, God also offers us empathy. To you and me, personally, Jesus weeps for us in our pain. He mourns with us.
We see this throughout the Scriptures, when He empathizes with those in pain:
“When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it” – Luke 19:41.
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to Him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept” – John 11:33-35.
Jesus got down low and met people right where they were. Jesus was uniquely made to empathize with us.
“For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people” – Hebrews 2:17.
“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” – Hebrews 4:15.
What an amazing God we serve! It was not enough for God to deliver us from our sins, He wanted to be able to relate with us in a unique way. He wanted it so badly that He was willing to suffer in this world just like you and I do. He has been tempted just as we are. God said that Jesus “had” to be made like us. God knew how important empathy was that He “had” to make Jesus like you and me: fully human.
Empathy is greater than sympathy. Showing sympathy to others is always good, but empathy goes so much deeper. Sympathy is when we look down at someone in their hole and cry for them and express our sadness. Empathy is when we climb down in the hole with them. Empathy is when a father sees his daughter crying sitting on the floor, and he sits down right next to her and asks what is wrong.
Empathy is such an incredible gift, and it is so needed in our dying world. We all need it, and in life’s worst moments we need it most. The same is true for the people at the nightclub in Orlando. The greatest need they have right now is empathy. And Jesus more than anyone understands that.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the best thing we can do for Orlando at this time is weep with those who weep. Mourn with those who mourn. Show them that we care and remind them that Jesus does as well. He, too, experienced pain in this fallen world. He, too, was hunted down and targeted.
In this dark hour the entire LGBTQ community across our nation is mourning and in great pain. They need our empathy as they feel attacked and hated in one of the deepest ways to hate, murder. They need our empathy. We do not have to condone the lifestyle to empathize with them, to show them we care. No one should be hunted down in such a heinous way.
Our world is full of so much pain. Tragedies big and small are happening every day. As Christ’s ambassadors, let’s be a comfort to this hurting world. Our world needs empathy. And through Jesus, we can bring it to them.