For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.
- Hebrews 4:15
In the course of time, Nahash king of the Ammonites died, and his son succeeded him as king. David thought, “I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, because his father showed kindness to me.” So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.
When David’s envoys came to Hanun in the land of the Ammonites to express sympathy to him, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun, “Do you think David is honoring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Haven’t his envoys come to you only to explore and spy out the country and overthrow it?” So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved them, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.
- 1 Chronicles 19:1-4
I write often about a television channel devoted to the weather. Decades ago, I heard about an executive with the company that complained that the weather broadcast did not sound like it was a local broadcast. To get people to trust them, he instructed the meteorologists in saying “We” instead of saying “You.” So when the storm is approaching, “We need to get to our safe place.” When disaster strikes, “We have lost loved ones.”
It would be subtle if they only occasionally used the change in wording.
But when one or two people never say anything other than “We” or “Us” it becomes so fake that I would think most people see right through it.
After all, when a tornado is ripping through your neighborhood bearing down on your house, “you” are in danger, but the meteorologist is in a safe building, maybe a thousand miles away. Let the roof of the studio blow off and then we might start talking about “we.”
There was an old Lone Ranger joke that is a little non-PC, so I have not heard it in some time. Let me try to clean it up.
The Lone Ranger and Tonto were surrounded. The Lone Ranger assessed the situation and he went to his friend and said, “We are surrounded by 400 blood-thirsty Native American warriors. What are we to do, Tonto?”
Tonto’s reply was, “What do you mean ‘we,’ white man!”
The joke illustrates that one cannot sympathize or empathize as part of company policy. Sympathy is when you understand the pain of another. Empathy is when you share in that pain. My wife is a great empath, but she does not know how to turn it off. When I groan in pain, she literally feels the pain.
When Jesus is in our hearts, we may have a touch of empathy, due to Jesus being within us. As the Scripture says above, Jesus can empathize with us. He has been tempted himself. But as for sympathy, we should know in some small way of the pain that others face each day. But that comes from our changed nature when we accepted Jesus.
Whether it comes naturally or through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit working within us, a corporation cannot dictate sympathy, and especially they cannot dictate empathy. And even King David sent an envoy to show sympathy, but his gesture was misinterpreted. A Corporate executive’s change in wording does not show sympathy or empathy, when those who lose everything need both.
I suppose as I watch the shows on that channel, I will cringe each time I hear the “we” unless it is a field reporter that is in the middle of the suffering. I have seen so many of those field reporters use empathy and sympathy as they put the microphone down and help someone put their life back together, even with small gestures of caring. Maybe that is why I keep watching.
May the Lord be praised whenever that happens.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.
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