Christ did not just feel "sorry for" but He felt "sorry with" the ones with whom He came in contact. The sense of the word is stronger than just a feeling. It includes the desire to relieve suffering.
Christ truly bears our griefs and carries our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). He is touched with the feeling of our infirmities because He lives them with us and gave His life to strengthen us in life's storms, teach us a better way, and breathe life, health and hope into our lives so we can "touch" others.
While in lockdown (due to COVID-19 pandemic), many millions are experiencing what is known as “touch deprivation." We know from studies of orphans that touch is as vital to human life as food, clothing and shelter. Babies deprived of touch die. Touch releases oxytocin, a hormone of well-being that lowers stress. Lack of touch increases isolation, stress, depression and loss of context in life.
Touch deprivation. Just a touch on the shoulder or a handshake can mean so much but, deprived of that in a lockdown, we must touch with our eyes and our tone of voice, or by reaching out in some way. We must look for eye contact and give the look that touches. If you know someone who lives alone, "touch" them.
Afflictions are a part of life, especially for those who carry a great burden for souls. There is no height of piety that releases us from the grief and sorrow that can be associated with this burden. Otherwise, why would we need the God of hope and the Spirit of comfort? Otherwise, how could we genuinely carry a burden for souls and grieve over our own shortcomings and need?
All who in this world render true service to God or man receive a preparatory training in the school of sorrow. The weightier the trust and the higher the service, the closer is the test and the more severe the discipline. (Education, p. 151)
It is because Christ is building into our own experience what it is to be "moved with compassion," to genuinely touch rather than just feeling sympathy or empathy. This extends then to those who are "out of the way, suffering, sinful, unlovable.”
May God teach us His touch.
Vicki Griffin is director of Health Ministries/Lifestyle Matters, Michigan Conference.