Sympathy Or Not?


Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

~1 Peter 4:19, KJV


To choose or desire suffering is insanity: to choose God’s will even if it means suffering is a horse of a different color.


Devotionals are written by humans who may be inspired but they are not infallible. I hope you get some truth out of this blog or any that I write but I am far from being infallible and so is every other writer or preacher. We make mistakes and many times out of ignorance. I love to read Oswald Chambers but I do not agree with everything he says. He said, “Never interfere with the suffering of a saint. The people who do us good are never the folks who sympathize with us: they in fact hinder our progress.” He even says that Jesus never wanted sympathy and he also says that self-pity is of the devil. He may be right about self-pity but he is wrong about sympathy. Jesus all but begged his disciples to watch and pray with Him in the garden. Yes, He did fight the battle all alone and perhaps that was the Father’s will but the humanity of Jesus longed for sympathy. Did Jesus deserve to suffer? No! Did He need to suffer? For our salvation, yes! Would his Mother have saved Him from this horrible agony if she could have? Yes, what mother would not. Does suffering purify our motives; does it advance our sanctification? Yes, God uses suffering as the refiner uses heat but there is no joy in seeing another human suffer and to withhold sympathy is cruel. Personally, I do not care for Job’s friends and his wife was horrible. She had the face and figure of a model but she was a witch with a B. This is probably why God said he was the best man on the planet: because he hadn’t killed the witch. Would it have hurt for her to show him some sympathy? Her attitude was: the sooner you curse God and die, the sooner I can collect the life insurance. How would you like to cuddle up to that on a cold night.

I do realize you cannot fight all your kids battles and you can’t prevent  them from making mistakes. Helicopter parents tend to raise soft and irresponsible children but give some consideration to those who never got love and sympathy from a caring parent. These are the kids that go into schools with loaded guns and see how many they can take out before they unload the gun. Seth was a United States Marine, something his Big Mama and I are proud of and I can assure you, he got no sympathy from his drill instructor. He talked to the boy like he was a dog: cursed him, cursed his mama and daddy. The man knew how to make a fighter, a hard nose military soldier but he didn’t make a friend. I have never heard Seth say one time, “Granddaddy, I really miss my drill instructor from boot camp. I sure would like to see him. I wonder how he is doing?” Did the Marines teach him things that I cannot? Yes, of course. Have I taught him things that they don’t or can’t teach? I hope so.

Bottom line, I disagree with Chambers; I think there is a legitimate need for sympathy. One other thing, I don’t disagree that self-pity is a bad thing but to say that Jesus said it is of the devil and use Matthew 16:23 as your proof text is a stretch. There is a huge difference between self-pity and sympathy. You cannot treat them as if they are the same and that is what Chambers does. So if your child falls and scratches his/her knees; pick them up and clean their wounds: show a little compassion. Who gets the most love when they grow old? Drill Sergeants or sympathetic parents?


Let me give you an example of a preacher speaking in ignorance. I heard a preacher say Monday, “There is nothing in the word of God about celebrating the birth of Christ.” I thought, wow, this cat has a bible that does not contain Luke 2 or Matthew 1-2. If I am not mistaken; the Angels celebrated Christ birth and so did the shepherds, the wise men and a host of others. I told the guys coming home {we were at a meeting in Capshaw}, “Surely the boy is not that ignorant. He is probably another Christmas hater.” They asked me to clarify and I did, “There are a lot of preachers who hate Christmas.”  They said, “You have to be kidding.” I said, “No I ma not.” They hate Christmas lights, parties, gift giving, trees, carols, the whole nine yards. One such guy was in seminary with me and worked at the same place off campus. It told me at work one day, “If I get a chance to preach this month {December}, I am going to preach on the evils of the Christmas tree.” I said, “Why would you do such a thing? You have thirty minutes or so to share the gospel and your going to use that time to talk about your hate for Christmas. Most of the folks you are going to be talking to love Christmas and they will turn you off before you get started good.” He was a Jordanian {descendant of Ismael} so you can imagine how much he listened to my advice. I am just telling you, there are scrooges in the ministry. I aint one of them. You cannot have a cross or a resurrection without the incarnation.

Had my allergy test yesterday evening: got shot twenty times with twenty different needles. The pain was off the charts….kidding, it was a piece of cake. I like a little pain. Kind of like getting shocked: gets the adrenaline  going. That is the good news: the bad news is all they could come up with was mold and dust. Actually that may be good: I am glad I am not allergic to food or Big Mama.

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