Suffering Helps Us Have Empathy and Understand Other’s Pains and Sorrows

My brother-in-law sent a letter to my son Alex who is on a mission for our church in Chile,  and he carbon copied me.  I had a really ‘Ahhh Ha’ moment when reading a scripture that he quoted.  This scripture is talking about how Christ suffered all sorts of difficult things so that He would feel mercy for us and know how to help us through our infirmities.  So I thought, ” If the Son of God had to go through difficulties in order to really learn and understand these things, then OBVIOUSLY WE are going to have to DO THE SAME to learn these Christ-like attributes.” I had never noticed that Christ needed those experiences for learning too! (He was just better at the learning part that I am.)


11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
 12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities. -Alma 7:11-12


It is amazing to me how my suffering has brought me more empathy for people in a variety of circumstances- not just widows.  Suffering is a universal thing.  I don’t compare and say, “Being a widow is harder than having a rebellious child, or not being able to have children, or having your husband divorce you.”  I just feel and empathize with their pain.

I think suffering can bring us closer together as we “mourn with those that mourn.”  We learn the Christ-like attribute of Charity, or maybe it’s not so much that we learn it, but it is bestowed upon us as we extend those feelings of empathy.  I have watched people do two things in the trial of loosing a spouse.

  1. They either pull inward and feel sorry for themselves, thinking their lot is harder than everyone else’s
  2.  They look outward and realize that everyone eventually suffers and that suffering helps us to grow.

The ones that pull inward wallow in their sorrow, while the ones that look outward escape it. Now I don’t expect anyone to be perfect.  We all have our wallowing moments, but when we recognize we are wallowing it’s time to make yourself look outward because that is the only way out and forward.


Questions to Ponder:

1.When you feel despair, pain or sorrow, how can choosing to turn outward instead of inward help lessen your pain?

2. How does understanding the purpose of feeling sorrow help you better cope?


  1. wrote on November 11th, 2013 at 6:55 pm


    I really like that. Even as a missionary christ was rejected. He had to go through a really really hard life too. I think its interesting that we never hear about joseph again in the bible. Mary is the only one who is mentioned right? Christ really really went through everything for us, but he also when through a lot for himself. The difference between Christ and us is that he didnt wallow in misery when he had a trial. he was still sad, but he was sad in an active and productive way. we have to learn to do this. to let our trials refine us rather than define us.