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Hebrew for Christians
The Plea of Empathy...
Marc Chagall - Jeremiah

    B"H  Tevet 8, 5771

The Plea of Empathy...

God knows where you hurt

by John J. Parsons

Psalm 116:1

"I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my supplications"
(Psalm 116:1)

THERE IS AN OLD CHASSIDIC STORY of two men sitting and enjoying a drink together. One of them then says to the other, "You know, you're my best friend. I really love you, brother!"  The other man responds, "Oh yeah? If you really love me, tell me where I hurt..."

A loving relationship between two people involves mutual listening and regard for the welfare and dignity of the other.  If we really love someone, we will know where he or she hurts; likewise, if someone really loves us, they will know "where we hurt," too.

The psalmist says, "I love the Lord because he hears my voice and my supplications; because he turns his ear to me, I will call on him all my days." Genuine love for the Lord cannot exist apart from a personal and honest relationship with him. God knows "where we hurt" and therefore he is the answer to our heart's deepest plea. He invites us to come "boldly" to the throne of grace to find help in time of our need (Heb. 4:16).

Of course love must be shared to be fulfilled. If we take comfort that the Lord "knows where we hurt," do we reciprocate by listening to the voice of his supplications?  If we say that we love him, are we aware of what brings pain to his heart?

But does the Lord suffer today?  The Apostle Paul wrote: "I am filling up what is lacking in the Messiah's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church" (Col. 1:24). What is "lacking in the Messiah's afflictions" is often our present sacrifice for the sake of others... Indeed the very "Law of Messiah" is to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2; John 15:12). Yeshua hungers with those who are hungry, thirsts with those who are thirsty, feels loneliness with those who are abandoned, shivers with those who are cold, weeps with those who are forlorn, is imprisoned with those who are incarcerated, is sick with those who are ill, and so on (Matt. 25:31-ff). Yeshua feels the pain of even the "least of these my brothers." This where he hurts, friends...

The essential difference between the righteous and the unrighteous is revealed in their response shown to those in need. After all, on the Day of Judgment, both the righteous and the unrighteous will account for their choices in light of the selfsame needy and pain-riddled world.  The destiny of each person will be determined by whether he or she took the time to genuinely engage the suffering of others...

Because God loves us, he knows where we are hurting. He hears our voice and answers our supplications. If we truly love God, we will likewise hear his voice and respond to his pleas. As Yeshua said, "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). May the Lord help us to share his heart and passion for a lost and hurting world.  Amen.

Hebrew-English Transliteration:

Hebrew-English transliteration

ahavti ki yishma' Adonai et-koli tachanunai

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Addendum: The Word "Paraklesis"

God graciously "delivers our soul from death, our eyes from tears, and our feet from stumbling" (Psalm 116:8) so that we are enabled to express his compassionate love to others in our lives... "For as we share abundantly in Messiah's sufferings, so we share abundantly in consolation (παράκλησις) of the Messiah, too" (1 Cor. 1:5). Therefore we can say, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God" (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Note that Paul links our present suffering (πάθος, pathos) with a divinely imparted comfort (παράκλησις, "paraklesis"), which he regards as a state of blessedness. God Himself "calls us to His side" (from παρά + καλέω) in the midst of our afflictions and pain.... The Greek text reads, ὁ παρακαλῶν ἡμᾶς ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ θλίψει ἡμῶν, and might be better rendered as, "The one calling to us [to His side] in all our tribulations" (2 Cor. 1:4). God invites us to come to His side for comfort so that we might offer his comfort to a lost and pain-riddled world.


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