Alma 7--all about Empathy

For the past 10-12 years (can't remember what baby was born when it started) the Relief Society in the ward I belonged to started something so wonderful. It is called "Women's Study Group". It is a simple Sunday School type class held every Wednesday morning during the school year. We take our time since we have no syllabus to follow. We took a year to do the Gospels. A year to do Paul's writings. We took a year to do Isaiah and it looks like it will take us three years to do the Book of Mormon.

We have spent the majority of this year in Mosiah and Alma. It truly has been a blessing to me. With all the things that I have to do, this has made studying the scriptures more meaningful and insightful. I would like to spend a few posts on what I have learned while studying. Mostly it is just my scattered brain thinking but I find by putting them in print I cement them in my mind.

As you know I have been battling cancer since the summer of 2009. It is a constantly moving and changing treatment plan and every day brings for new trials and challenges. Today I'm waiting on a new diagnosis as it might not be Lymphoma after all. I can not tell you how emotionally hard this has been to deal with. Some days I feel like I'm doing this all by myself and no one understands what I'm going through. I know I now have a better appreciation for all cancer patients and their families. I now have empathy. Which brings me to my discovery.

When I was a little girl I had heard and of course read that Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, suffered for our sins and our afflictions. I really didn't understand that fully (and doubt I still do) but now have a better grasp into a new favorite verse of mine.

Alma is talking to the people of Gideon and is prophesying about Christ and his role while here on earth. He talks about his birth and then it talks about how he will "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." (verse 11)
"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."

I can not tell you how much these two verses give me comfort. I have often wonder if he knew what pains--physical and emotional pains--I bare. He does and it says he knows this so he can know how to succor his people. The word succor means "help, relief, aid or assistance".

I can't count the times I have been asked, "What can I do?" I don't know. Physically right now there is nothing to do. Emotionally I need a soft shoulder, a listening ear and an unjudging heart.

That is what my Savior gives me. A soft shoulder, a listening ear and a unjudging heart. I just need to remember to turn to him daily for my succor.

He knows "according to the flesh" my sufferings, pains and my afflictions. He, only He knows. That is true empathy.