One of the hardest things about the time of suffering and setbacks is the solitude. When we endure testing, or when we mourn, when we have cause to lament, it can feel as if we are all alone. Nobody really understands how it feels to be us in that moment. It can even feel as if God himself has turned on us.
I really do feel it’s to counteract that sensation that God has gifted people with the capacity to show sympathy. By this we don’t mean to feel sorry for someone, but in the literal translation of the word which means ‘together-feeling’. To show sympathy means to get down in the dust with a person, put your arm around them and show them that they are not alone. It’s an ability that Christians are called to exercise.
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” (1 Peter 3:8)
Even better is that God has sympathised with us. He himself has got down in the muck and suffered with us. He has even suffered for us. The knowledge that in fact we are not alone in our grief and pain is a great comfort.