Paul recommended that those of us who are strong and mature in faith are to have patience with those who are weak. I imagine that this also relates to persons who are experiencing difficulties or who are going through a hard time. The reality is that even a strong person has moments of weakness. A strong person under trial can become vulnerable and need the patience of others around them. Grace says that we are willing to overlook a person’s irrational behaviours when we know that they are hurting deeply. Most of us are not at our best when we are wounded and exhausted.
“bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” (Colossians 3:13). Paul spoke again in his letter to the Colossians about the need to be compassionate, kind, humble, meek and patient. He spoke about the need for us to forgive others and to exercise tolerance. We find it easier to tolerate and accept people who are similar to us. Our impatience is increased towards people who are the exact opposites of our personality types. If someone offends you at a time when you know that they are hurting, are you willing to make allowances?
Empathy requires us to imagine what it would feel like to walk in another person’s shoe. The fact that a thing is not a major issue or concern for you, does not mean that it is not a major difficulty for someone else. Being empathetic means that we ask people to tell us about their experiences and make the time to listen. We don’t have to agree to understand and show compassion. Being argumentative is extremely insensitive when people try to explain how they feel. Being open to listen allows us to enter into another person’s experience. We listen without judgement and demonstrate respect for how people interpret and communicate their experiences.
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).