I Know How You Feel
Monday, August 28, 2017
The heart knows its own bitterness,
and no stranger shares its joy.
For modern people, openness is next to godliness. Transparency is in; the stiff upper lip is out.
But Solomon knew (like Jeremiah) that no one can really know the human heart (Jer. 17:9), least of all a third party: The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy. No therapist or pastor knows, no colleague or friend, not even a husband or wife. In the words of the old spiritual: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” Or the joys.
This ancient bit of psychology can help us help people. Like DNA and fingerprints, the thoughts of a person’s heart are unique. So—think about it—no matter how similar your experience may be, no matter how well you think you know “where they’re coming from,” no matter how earnestly you try to understand, every heart still knows its own bitterness. We often say “I know how you feel,” and we think we mean it. But it’s never really quite true, is it? Nobody knows—nobody knows but Jesus.
That doesn’t mean give up on getting involved in people’s lives. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2). It does mean that understanding comes before advice, and that we depend on God for discernment, and trust Him to go where we can’t go and say what we can’t say. God knows how they feel. God knows how they should feel.
And God knows how you feel too.
Welcome to Christ Church this Lord’s Day. O Lord, I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul (Ps. 31:7-8).
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