Knees bent, arms raised, racket held high, I waited. Eyes fixed on the net, ears tuning out the clatter of other games in the field house, I got ready.
Moving side to side, anticipating the swoosh of the shuttlecock as it met the racket, I prepared again.
How could anyone fail at badminton? Badminton!
I thought badminton would be an easy class to fulfill the PE requirement for my Special Education degree. I was taking it Pass-Fail—not even for a letter grade. In the three years I’d been in college, I’d never dropped a course. Though I certainly wasn’t winning any medals for my athletic ability, I’d never struggled academically. Now, despite my best efforts, I was in danger of failing, and withdrawal seemed the best option.
My instructor encouraged me to stick with it, so I agreed to give it one more week. My badminton partner patiently served the birdie again and again. And my roommate, a Kinesiology major, helped me practice by throwing wads of paper across the dorm room.
I thought, Lord, why am I having such a hard time with this?
As I poured out my complaints to the Lord, He spoke to me in the quietness of my spirit.
If you want to teach special needs children, you need to experience what they experience----the challenge of accomplishing skills that come easily to others. You need to learn empathy.
When we’ve experienced firsthand what someone else is going through, we are able to understand and share in their struggle. We can offer empathy.
Jesus is the Master of empathy. He knows exactly how we feel---not just in an intellectual sense, but in a Been-There-Done-That kind of way. The Creator of the universe put on human skin. He felt the sun beating down on His head, the gritty desert sand scorching His feet, the lightning bolts of pain shooting through His body as nails were driven through His feet and hands.
He experienced the same temptations we do.
In Matthew 4:1-11, we read about Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness. Jesus felt the clawing in his stomach and the temptation to satisfy that hunger in the wrong way. Jesus knows what it’s like to see all the splendid things the world has to offer, and to know He could have them all without blood, sweat, and tears---if only He’d make a deal with the devil. He knows the taunting of the enemy, and He’s been faced with the same kind of choices we must make: Gratify the flesh or glorify the Father.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15 NKJV
Are you weeping over lost loved ones or wayward children? Jesus wept over those things, too.
Have you felt like no one understands, like even God has turned His back on you? Guess what…Jesus has firsthand experience with that, too.
He knows the battles we face as well as the victory of overcoming temptation. He tenderly reaches out to us and says, “I know it’s hard. Here, let me help you.” He took the penalty for our sins, but He didn’t stop there. Jesus didn’t leave us alone to swing aimlessly at the enticements the enemy serves into our court. Jesus sent His Spirit to intercede for us and empower us.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” I Corinthians 10:13 NKJV
“Yet in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
Do you know someone who needs a little extra patience and understanding today?
Or maybe you’re the one who’s struggling---wrestling with temptation, grappling with pain and heartbreak, straining to do things that are just plain hard. Maybe it feels like no one understands. Turn to Jesus. He knows exactly how you feel, and He has the power to help.
In our frailty, Jesus offers friendship. In our struggle, He offers strength.
He’s the Master of Empathy.
Lord Jesus, in our struggles, let us rest in your love and rely on your leading. In our temptations, guide us to that way of escape. Help us show empathy to our fellow strugglers.
Resting in Jesus,