The Empathy of Jesus

Images from Japan flood our screens. Here, oceans away, many of us are trying to make sense of the chaos and suffering, trying to understand what we are to do with these scenes.

. . . the real sting of suffering is not the misfortune itself, nor even the pain or injustice of it, but the apparent God-forsakenness of it. Pain is endurable, but the seeming indifference of God is not. ~John Stott

The thought that God is not present – or even worse, is indifferent – during the tragedies of life, offers the final blow. And yet, we know he is all-seeing and that he loves us.

We are not alone.

When we can move beyond the questions of why (which may or may not ever be answered), choosing to trust in his sovereignty and his love, we can find comfort in knowing that he was present even during our suffering. He understands what we feel because he was there too. He knows what we’ve experienced because he walked through it with us.

And this isn’t the first time he’s experienced loss, humiliation, rejection, abandonment, physical pain, betrayal . . .

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . . (John 1:14)

He has experienced all of those things, not only with us when we face them, but when he walked among us . . . when he set aside the glory of heaven and the presence of the Father to become man. Author Paula Rinehart writes, “If we find our worst moments in the worst moments of Christ, we ask less often if he cares because we know. We know.”

When the world moves on, distracted by other more current news, Jesus will still be in Japan walking alongside those who must re-learn how to put one foot in front of the other to press forward. When you feel alone in your suffering, weary from the journey, broken by your circumstance, rest in the truth that he sees you and he is there.

You are not alone.


We have the opportunity to demonstrate the empathy that Jesus offers us, to those around us. The world hurts for the people of Japan who have suffered debilitating tragedy and yet must press forward. Consider reaching out across the world to remind the people of Japan that they are not alone.

1. Support those in your community who may have loved ones who are affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Take a meal, write a note, give them a call, pray. It’s okay if you don’t have all the “right” words.

2. Donate money (which is preferable to goods). For a great list of organizations and what they do, check out this list at the Huffington Post. You can also vet organizations or read advice about supporting relief efforts at Charity Navigator. Or check out how to use social media to support relief efforts.

Credits: Image by Paula Nelson (Recorded Pictures). Used with permission via Flickr.


  1. Pingback: Teaching Empathy : Laity Lodge Family Camp – A Christian Family Camp in Texas

  2. This is really good. I especially like the practical ways that we can help – here, and in your post at THC. I ran a post on my blog today, inviting readers to share a prayer. I think so many people feel helpless in the face of such enormous and ongoing tragedy. These two posts of yours help to give us all a sense of where we each may be able to begin…

  3. Tina, this is wonderful. I’m especially moved by the quote by John Stott. Watching the devastation was troubling, and all I could do was pray. And, like Deidra, I appreciate you listing the practical ways we can help , as the enormity of the catastrophe is overwhelming.

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