by Steve Preston
All of us have probably heard that phrase at one time or another. It usually comes after telling someone of a problem or problems you are facing.
How often, though, is the response, “I know how you feel,” appropriate? Does the person saying it actually know how you feel? Has the same thing happened to them and under the same circumstances?
Not very many people could truthfully say, “I know how you feel.”
The apostle Paul was one such person who could and did make such a declaration. In his letter to the Philippian brethren Paul wrote,
“I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (4:12).
There were periods when Paul had more than he needed and there were also times that he “suffered need.” In all things Paul understood what others went through. Physically speaking, Paul probably went through more trials than anyone:
“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep” (2 Corinthians 11:22-27).
Even with all his suffering, which God foretold (Acts 9:16), Paul understood that the greatest concern was the “care of all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).
The next time you feel the urge to tell someone, “I know how you feel,” stop and think about whether you really do or not. Everyone wants some understanding during difficulties, but rarely does anyone want false sympathy.
If, like Paul, there is virtually no situation that you have not gone through, thank God, as Paul did, that you can “do all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13).
Used with the author’s permission. Originally published in his BibleTalk: list_BibleTalkfirstname.lastname@example.org
by Steve Preston