Learning Empathy through Our Trials: Christ Sets The Example

Through our suffering, we learn to have Christlike empathy for others.

"Christ teaches what it means to have perfect empathy as he makes our sorrows his own."

Photo by Tom Pumford

If God loves us, why do we suffer? Most of us have had to face this question, and modern revelation provides sound, intellectual answers. But when we’re struggling through trials, sometimes the intellectual answer isn’t enough to carry our faith. In the article “Empathy and the Atonement,” Tyler Johnson explores not only why we suffer but also how God responds to our suffering and how we, in turn, should respond to the suffering of others.

“Christ’s perfect answer to the world’s suffering is to offer to weep with us through each of our trials,” Johnson reflects. Many of us question or have questioned the purpose of our personal trials as well as seemingly universal suffering, but it’s through these heartaches that Christ teaches us what it means to have perfect empathy, because he makes our sorrows his own. Since this relief is rarely physical and often takes time to recognize, God allows us, with the empathy we’ve developed, to be the most frequent and immediate response to the suffering of others.

At baptism, we covenant to emulate Christ as we bear one another’s burdens, and in doing so, our suffering and empathy take on a new role. “Empathy is the most powerful way in which God invites us to partner with him in assuaging the world’s manifest sadness,” Johnson states. By bearing one another’s burdens, we become more like the Savior and learn “to make God’s willing empathy our own.”

For more insight on how we gain empathy through our trials read Tyler Johnson’s full article: “Empathy and the Atonement.”

Source: BYU Studies Quarterly

Shelby Gardner, Mormon Insights contributor 

feature image by avinash patel

Find more insights

Learn more about Christ’s Atonement in Elder Jeffery R. Holland’s talk “Behold Thy Mother.”

Read examples of Christlike empathy in Elder Jose L. Alonso’s talk “Love One Another as He Has Loved Us.”

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