Pray for a “sympathy breakthrough”
“Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” Col 3:12 NLT
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote, “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” In his documentary on twentieth-century wars, Jonathan Glover refers to what he calls “sympathy breakthroughs.” Even in the situation of war, acts of compassion supersede the conflict. Most sympathy breakthroughs, according to Glover, are triggered by eye-to-eye contact, and that eye-to-eye contact displaces hand-to-hand combat. Have you ever had a sympathy breakthrough? If not, pray for one. It’s a moment when your tendency to hate is overcome by your will to love. A moment when proactive compassion overrules negative anger. A moment when you’re concerned more about someone else’s pain than your own. Those are the moments when you discover what it really means to love God with all your heart. It’s much simpler to act like a Christian than it is to react like one. Anybody can put on an act. But your reactions expose what is really in your heart. And if you love God with all your heart, you won’t merely act like it. You will react like it. The apostle Peter puts it this way: “Clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony” (vv. 12-14 NLT).