This is the capacity or ability to identify with another person, and understand his or her feelings, thoughts or attitudes in a genuine way in their time of need (Rom 12:15; Heb 10:33, 13:3; 1 Pet 3:8). Listen to hear what is on their heart. By acknowledging or

Empathy is walking in their shoes   

recognizing the need this is empowering and helpful to the other person. Don't feel that it is your responsibility to endeavour to fix every situation (or even intervene unless asked or maybe give them pointers to equip rather than rescuing them) as this can dis-empower them.

However, we are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit as empathy is often more than sympathy, it is compassion at work, giving moral support and where appropriate providing practical beneficial help, bearing another’s burdens in a tangible way and so fulfilling Christ’s command, with the question asked, "If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?" (Gal 6:2; Jas 2:15,16; 1 Jn 3:17). As appropriate, it is doing to others what we would like done to us, which is often termed the golden rule (Lk 6:31). Jesus' heart overflowed with compassion when He saw the crowds, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mt 9:36; Lk 7:13). While humanity was oblivious to the seriousness of our predicament, He saw us as eternally lost, and acted to bring about salvation for us (Rom 5:8).  He lived on earth as a human being, and so was able to appreciate our limitations and trials and in ‘all points was tempted as we are yet didn’t sin’ (Heb 2:17,18, 4:15).  When we have experienced something, we can understand the similar problems of others and come alongside them in a more meaningful way (2 Cor 1:4).

Another example of Jesus displaying the capacity to understand and share the feelings of others was despite being crucified and about to die, He was still able to share the emotional pain of His mother, Mary. As a result, He made arrangement for her welfare after His death (Jn 19:25-27).

God is not unaware of our struggles for "You keep track of all my sorrows, and collect all my tears..." and the invitation remains, "Cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you" (Ps 56:8; 1 Pet 5:7).

See also: comfort (reassure), compassion, empower, encouragement, golden rule, sensitive, support, sympathy.