ow do we measure pain? If I step on your toe, it hurts you but I do not feel pain. Your nerve endings translate the pain into your consciousness, but not into mine. Physically we can only feel our own pain, not the pain of others. To be aware of and feel someone else’s pain demands a sensitivity and effort above and beyond our natural feelings and capacities.
In the words “compassion” and “sympathy,” the passion and the pathos refer to someone else’s feelings. Com and sym mean “together with” or “kjhparallel to.” We are compassionate or sympathetic people when we can overcome our self-centeredness, and are able to perceive and identify with what another person is experiencing.
Yeshua was the most compassionate person who ever lived. He wept through compassion (Luke 19:41, John 11:35, Hebrews 5:7) and reached out to heal others with power motivated by compassion (Matt 9:36, 14:14). In Isaiah 53, the Messiah is twice referred to as “a man of sorrows” (verse 3) and “suffered our pains” (verse 4). The Hebrew word in both cases is not the normal word for “pain” (khe’ev) כאב but the more poetic form of the same root (makhe’ov) מכאוב. This may be a reference to His willingness to experience a kind of pain not originally his own.
The more we grow to become like Yeshua, the more sensitive we become to the pains of those around us. We can measure and feel their pains. Through our suffering, we may become a source of comfort and encouragement to others (II Corinthians 1:6).