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The Pain of Empathy

I was driving toward a neighbor’s house when he backed out of his driveway rather quickly. I slowed down to let him out, and as I did I saw a small black kitten jump playfully onto the neighbor’s lawn.

“The laborers were few in New Testament times, and they are still few today. Yet this shouldn’t be. ”

As I watched it for a few seconds it suddenly dawned on me that the poor animal wasn’t joyfully playing. It had been run over and was in its death throes. Then it rolled over and lay motionless. I was horrified and frantically followed the neighbor in my car to tell him what had happened. But he was driving too fast to catch. So, I knocked on the door of the house, but no one was home.

Later that morning, as I was telling Sue about what I had seen, I broke down in tears.

I had earlier been meditating on the necessity of having a compassionate heart. In the book of Jude, it says, “On some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire…” (Jude 1:22,23), and it grieved me that I would break down at the death of a little kitten, and yet have dry eyes when I pray for and plead with the lost. If I can weep for a kitten, why can’t I weep over Jerusalem? The death of an animal is nothing compared to the terrible fate of the unsaved.

“What a sin it would be to neglect to tell a terminal patient that you have a cure, and what an evil it is to fail to warn him that he is in mortal danger.”

It seems that I’m not alone with my dry eyes and hard heart. That same morning, I had read statistics saying that most of the contemporary Church isn’t involved even slightly in the task of evangelism. They’re not going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature, as Jesus commanded us to (Mark 16:15).

The laborers were few in New Testament times, and they are still few today. Yet this shouldn’t be. What we profess to possess in Christ gives us a double obligation. We’re not only obligated to tell dying sinners about Heaven, but we are obligated to warn them about Hell.

What a sin it would be to neglect to tell a terminal patient that you have a cure, and what an evil it is to fail to warn him that he is in mortal danger.

Although Jesus had a gladness above His companions (Hebrews 1:9), the Scriptures say that He was a “Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). To walk in His steps and enter into the suffering of those around us is a hard road to follow. Empathy is a painful and rocky road, but one in which we must walk if we want our prayers to be effectual and our preaching to be with power. May God help us to rid ourselves of the self-deceiving curse of complacency.

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters and the bestselling author of more than 80 books, including God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, How to Know God Exists, and The Evidence Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program “Way of the Master,” seen in almost 200 countries, and is the Executive Producer of “180,” “Evolution vs. God,” “Audacity,” and other films. He is married to Sue and has three grown children, and hasn’t left the house without gospel tracts for decades.

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