Reading:  Hebrews 4:15
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.


“You don’t know what it’s like to be poor!” said the protester. “You don’t know what it’s like to be black!” said the marcher. “You don’t know what it’s like to be a woman!” said the crusader for fair wages. All points conceded. Trying to feel what others are feeling outside of experience is like trying to understand a new foreign language. We can all claim to sympathize – to feel pity and sorrow for a sufferer. But to claim “empathy” we must “feel the pain.”

In a job fair classroom, a Vietnam veteran listened as his instructor used multiple military illustrations to make his point. He implied that his students were soft, untested, and weak. He was going to “put some steel” in their resolve. The vet raised his hand. “Have you ever been under fire?” The silence was deafening. The trainer stared into the dark eyes of the vet. In that moment, he saw the tracings of a hundred battles – blood, terror, and valor. “No,” he whispered dryly, “I never saw combat.” Nothing more was said. The message was clear: “You have nothing to say to me.”

God knows what it is to be human; to suffer pain and rejection; to feel elation and dejection. He is uniquely qualified, in every case, to speak with authority.


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