comment 0

Empathy

Last year when my wife broke her kneecap, the paramedics and eight firemen turned up to help. The church car park, filled with flashing lights looked like a civil disaster area. One women paramedic was just awesome.  Not just because she had the morphine which my wife appreciated but she was exceedingly gentle.  When the urgent work was done, we found out what made her such a special medic. It turned out she had broken both her kneecaps too at various times, so she understood just how painful it was for my wife.

As the camp of Israel waited below, Moses ascended the mountain into the cloud of glory. (Ex 32.24-25) In the cloud, Moses is told by God how to build the tabernacle and who would staff it. Levites would be priests and that Aaron his brother was to be High Priest over the nation.  Moses came down with new directions and a new position for Aaron. He was told how to make garments for beauty and glory that Aaron would wear as he brought the people before God. Aaron was going to keep the people holy to God.

When Moses comes down, all of Israel is dancing naked around the golden calf.  Aaron, High Priest elect, had taken the gold from the people and formed a golden calf, like one of the fertility gods of Egypt. He had turned a worship service into a strip club.  He hadn’t even got through his first day in the job and he had the nation throwing off their clothes in debauched idolatry.

It is amazing who God calls to be ministers.  If we were God, we wouldn’t have chosen Aaron for the biggest job in Israel, but God is looking for people who can be ministers. Through his failures, Aaron was able to be touched with the feelings of the people’s infirmities.   Because of his own mess he had no message of condemnation or judgment.  Aaron would not be self-righteous or condescending but understanding.  He knew their struggle. He could bear and feel the burdens of others.

This is why we don’t go to a marriage counsellor who is not married or to a child counsellor who’s got no kids.  They might say they know how you feel but they don’t.  They don’t have something called empathy.  Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing.  It’s being able to feel what it is like to walk in somebody else’s shoes. The counsellors might all have knowledge but that is not the same as empathy. There are some things you can’t get out of a book.  My wife’s paramedic and Aaron both had empathy and it enabled them to minister.

Friends,  Aaron looked like a mistake but was chosen by God. You too are His chosen and your past is designed to qualify you.  Sometimes we have to go through painful and difficult experiences, to help us become ready to be a blessing and a minister to others.  People will enjoy the blessing you are to them but only your Father knows what it took for you to become that blessing.

 

 

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