A lot of people were upset after the election. And rightfully so. I have no threat posed to me, so I cannot judge the fear and apprehension of people who Trump has spoken out against. People who fear being deported and fear racist actions will be committed against them because they are emboldened by the president-elect and majority’s vote.
And yet, the response a lot of Christians came out saying was, ”God is still on His throne.”
And that’s true. Christians have seen worse rulers with a lot more power than Trump in history and God still brought about his purposes and promises for his people. It can bring us great comfort to know and remember that God is in control and plans good for us even when the world seems to be a dangerous and chaotic place.
I believe this phrase can be used genuinely, but I think sometimes we use that phrase as a cop-out. We use it as a way to dismiss the emotions of others especially when we don’t share those emotions. Rather than sit with them in the fear and despair, we dismiss those emotions as invalid and rebuke them for not having more faith.
Theology should accompany rather than replace empathy.
As a white middle-class American, I know very little about hardship. It’s hard for me to imagine being forced to leave my home and everything I know against my will. It’s hard for me to imagine someone treating me different because of how I look. And that’s why it’s sometimes easy for me to think, “Get over it,” rather than “I may not understand, but I am sorry for what you’re going through.”
Because empathy doesn’t think, “But they broke the law to be here, so they deserve it if they get deported.” Empathy remembers that time I was rejected and felt alone, without a safe place I belonged.
Empathy doesn’t think, “They just need to work harder and not commit crimes.” Instead, empathy remembers when I had less than others and it was so hard to catch up and the lack of support made my hurt heart exclaim, “Fine! I don’t need to follow your rules anyway. If you don’t play fair, I won’t either.”
Because empathy knows I did nothing to deserve my citizenship, history or my skin color. Empathy seeks to understand rather than demand to be right. Empathy just feels and remembers that we’re all just hurt people trying to make it in this fallen world.
This week, I challenge you to seek similarities rather than differences, to feel rather than judge, and to love rather than preach. Because I believe empathy is the first step towards understanding and trust. And we need a whole lot of that in our world right now.