Hopes and Hurts Sermon

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Tue, 01/28/2020 - 10:15am

“Hopes and Hurts” Sermon for 01-26-20 at Harbor Church

The Shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept”

Reading: John 11:28-37

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.


Have you ever gone through a challenging period or a crisis and had a friend say to you, “I know how you feel.” 

How do you feel when someone says to you, “I know exactly how you feel.” 

My reaction is usually to think (if not to say) “no you don’t!” No one else has gone through the exact same circumstances that you have, or that I have, or that anyone has, for that matter. Everyone’s journey is unique to them. But with this understanding, I think that it is possible to try to feel the pain of others. And this can be a great motivator and aid to us as we strive to minister to others and support them in their difficulties. So how do we do this? How do we feel the pain of others to a degree that it mobilizes us to provide help, succor, encouragement? 

We want others to be able to feel for us and with us. We want to be able to do this for others as well. To say in our hearts if not out loud: “I feel you, man!” “I feel for you…”


“Embracing the Hopes and Hurts of others”



“While these words are near cousins, they are not synonymous with one another. Empathy means that you feel what a person is feeling. Sympathy means you can understand what the person is feeling. Compassion is the willingness to relieve the suffering of another.”

CONSIDER HOW Sympathy (understanding of situation) and Empathy (feeling with another) can help us accomplish our mission as a church and combine to produce Compassion- which is Love-In-Action….


PROCESS: Understanding—> Identification-—> Mobilization

SYMPATHY - Feeling ‘for’ the person someone (sympathy)-distance/across from. An object of compassion.  “I understand your situation. I can appreciate what you must be going through. I know that you feel sad.”

 EMPATHY (feeling ‘with’ the person). Feeling ‘with’ someone (empathy)-it reduces the distance between us: we move from being across from someone to /being alongside of Someone.

  • A Therapist’s definition of empathy: “emotional understanding”
  • Perhaps the truest expression of feeling we can have is to identify with the emotional state of others. We have no record of Jesus feeling sorry for Himself or dwelling on or becoming preoccupied with any of His personal suffering. But he felt for others. He felt sorry for them (sympathy), he felt their pain (empathy), and then he did something about it (compassion).
  • There are plenty of examples of his ability to relate to others, to feel what they were feeling, and then translate that into action for the benefit of the people around him.

COMPASSION from Compassion International: WE ARE "SUFFERING WITH" CHILDREN IN NEED  The etymology of the word compassion stems from the Latin com meaning "with, together" and the Latin pati "to suffer." Compassion literally means to suffer with. Compassion, suffering with another person, is combining sympathy with an active response or a desire to help. Because we have compassion, we want to act and lessen someone else's suffering. 



Do you ever wonder, why Jesus wept when Lazarus died? Surely Jesus knew that Lazarus was on his way to a better place, that his heavenly home awaited him. Why then did he cry? I can think of several possibilities: 

He felt the pain of others. 

In the Lazarus story, We read:

“When Jesus saw her weeping, and [when he saw] the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved within himself.”

He knew the pain of others and it became his own.


In his book entitled The Suffering God God Author Charles Ohlrich writes a whole chapter about how God suffers with us. In it He says,  “I could never worship a God who indifferent to human affliction.” The Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. “a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said, ”My heart is breaking with grief.”  When He carried the cross to Golgotha, he bore not only the sin of the world, but also the suffering of all humankind.” Every loss, every hungry child, every illness, every agony is part of the burden that Jesus carries.  Human suffering breaks God’s heart.


The English author and preacher Leslie Weatherhead made this discovery of God′s fellow-Suffering . In  One Of his books he describes a dream in which he is  Standing in heaven next to an angel′ looking down on  Suffering humanity. As he listens, he hears the cries of  People in pain all over the world′ and he becomes very  angry. He wonders how God can dwell in transcendent  Serenity when all humanity is in such turmoil.  He says, in my dream an angel turned to me with a face I cannot describe. There was pain in it such as I have never seen on a face before. Yet there was joy too, outshining it. There were tears in his eyes, yet through the tears a triumph shone.  This is the secret of empathizing with others – that sorrow is genuine, but that compassion prevails. That we feel for others in such a s way that we are not incapacitated or overwhelmed, but galvanized and motivated to action.  God with us (Emmanuel) and we are not alone in our pain. Meaningless suffering intensifies when it is borne alone. Sufferers then need not only sympathy′ but genuine empathy. They need ′′someone who understands to be there′ to Stand with them in their hour Of trial. In the coldness and alienation of a hospital bed′ it means so much to be affirmed by the warm embrace of a friend who understands what  affliction is like′ Someone Who has experienced the same Pain and the same fear.

We also learn to live with the tension of feeling the pain of others who have not been healed… who are poor and in still in need … who are living with unfulfilled desires who are experience firsthand the injustice and inequity in this world.   


Feeling the pain of others requires that we give something of ourselves. 

What do we give? How do we give? When do we give? We give of ourselves.


EXAMPLES OF SYMPATHY & SERVICE Deacons and . Stephen Ministry are trained lay-care-givers in the church. They are taught to Listen. God listens to us. We can listen to others in the same way. “God works through our caring listening like a soothing salve works on a wound, bringing about healing, deeper self-understanding, and the abundant life that Jesus promised.” ACTIVE LISTENING CAN BE OUR FIRST RESPONSE of compassion.


COMPASSION (another dimension is compassion for ‘lostness’). Jesus’ motivation for healing the sick was a genuine sorrow for the physical suffering that he saw in others.

But, he also wept for the spiritual pain he experienced when he looked upon Jerusalem. He anticipated his betrayal by the people there, and instead of judging them, he experienced sorrow for their lostness. That they were hurting so much inside that they were ready to lash out and hurt others, to hurt him. When you see someone who is living in sin, or with the consequences of their sin does it make you cringe or cry? Is your heart moved to pray for that person’s relief, healing, comfort, and salvation? Is your compassion strong enough to cause your hand to extend in action, help, or hope for another? That’s was Jesus’ response.  He felt the ‘lostness’ of people – their sense of hopelessness, lack of direction or purpose, or the penalties that sin had produced in their lives. And He responded with compassion.


True Spiritual healing ultimately comes from the presence of God. BUT It is represented in the physical presence of every person here in this room. We all have the God-given capacity for sympathy, empathy, and compassion. We can be healing salve that others need. Ultimately God is the cure-giver, but we can be the caregivers. We can do our part to ease the pain and suffering in the world.. one day at a time, one person at a time. 


Sympathy/Empathy/Compassion are all motivators for ministry to others. When we see their hopes and hurts these can produce a response from us, an act that comes from our hearts. Then, we can embrace the hopes and hurts of others, and respond to them in their moment of need.