THE 10 + 1 BUILDING BLOCKS OF RELATIONSHIP: COMFORT (EMPATHY)
Empathy is the building block, if you will, of being able to recognize that a person needs comfort, and then having the sentiment, the positive feeling, emotion or notion to do something good about it. Comfort is the net result.
This is the stepping stone that leads to compassion. Maybe think of providing this level of comfort as pouring out your cup for someone. You're giving someone else a part of you, something that can't be bought in the store. When you think about it, this is at the very heart of 10 + 1... you're sharing a love that is true, pure, and unconditional.
When we provide comfort, we're putting someone else's needs first, even when it may require an extra effort on our part. Here's an excellent example from the Bible:
"All night long on my bed
I looked for the one my heart loves;
I looked for him but did not find him.
I will get up now and go about the city,
through the streets and squares;
I will search for the one my heart loves.
So I looked for him but did not find him.
The watchmen found me
as they made their rounds in the city.
Have you seen the one my heart loves?
Scarcely had I passed them
when I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
till I had brought him to my mother's house,
to the room of the one who conceived me." Song of Songs 3:1-4
Caring about someone to this extreme exemplifies one person's love for another... a love that would get up from bed after fretting all night out of concern for them, and to go to find them and comfort them. Sometimes we'll do this all day long too, when caring for a loved one... making comfort foods, like chicken noodle soup, bringing nourishment to them in bed or turning the living room over to them as a place of peace and solitude while they rest and recuperate, running to the store or pharmacy for medications to aid in their recovery... and back again when they think of just one more thing that may help.
Of course, many of us can identify with this scenario. Certainly not all, I'm sure, but many can, right? So Jesus leads us to take comfort to the next level.
I want to take you back to the Bible now, to very end of one book that describes the life of Jesus. This account was by Luke, his last words (and shared memory) of his time with Jesus...
Jesus said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. Luke 24:44-53
Our great comforter, in our most vulnerable moment, foresaw our need, and in His perfect way, God gave us the comfort found in the Holy Spirit. In turn, the power of compassion and love filled our hearts with the desire to spread the Good News and to soldier on, passing this wonderful sentiment along to the next person who needs comfort in our world.
When I think of comforting someone, it's usually when they're sick, or have suffered some loss. What examples can you come up with of when we comfort someone else?