I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11)
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"I know what you're going through. I've been there."There's something comforting about those words. You make a very special connection--a unique bond, if you will--with someone who has truly been through the very same difficulty you have. A bond of common experience and suffering. A fellowship, if you will.
I, for instance, have a very soft spot in my heart for the wives of ill/disabled husbands, because I am one. It's not just that I can "give them advice" because of my own experience. And it's not just that they can do the same for me. It's a special kind of comfort and understanding that comes from empathy--being able to be in someone else's proverbial shoes. It's the "fellowship of sharing in his [or her] sufferings." It's being able, in a sense, to make suffering lighter by sharing it. It's knowing that person just a bit better because of your commonality.
Knowing what Jesus went through in his earthly life is one thing. I can read the Bible for that. Yet, with the right attitude, experiencing it myself can give me a new, more intimate fellowship with Him: the fellowship of shared experiences. So, perhaps, because I have been rejected by others, chastised by Jews, and misunderstood by my closest relatives, I can empathize with My Savior, and draw a bit closer to him.
It's easy to take experiences like these and whine about them, or even to withdraw from the Lord, feeling forsaken. Yet, why not see them as an opportunity to empathize with our Savior, and to develop that fellowship of sharing suffering?
Heavenly Father, I know that your empathy for me is complete, as you have gone through everything I have. Help me, Lord, to feel some of that same empathy with You, and to draw closer to You in the process. I know I cannot empathize with you completely, as I am but a human, while You are divine. Still, draw me closer to you through the fellowship of our shared suffering, and help me to look at my own suffering in this same light. In Jesus' Name I pray. Amen.
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Scripture Stories: Timeless Truths