True Sympathy

Like many other words, sympathy takes on a new meaning to the student of Christian Science. According to the dictionaries it stands for "suffering; passion; the quality of being affected by the affection of another." Among other baseless charges made against Christian Scientists is that of coldness and lack of sympathy for those in trouble. Such a statement is superficial and does not differentiate between true and false sympathy. True sympathy is always helpful; it lightens a load, or gives the sufferer a helping hand up a steep place. Untrue sympathy adds to the load or pulls down the one struggling upward to apathetic rest on a wayside stone. It is only the weakness and selfishness of self-pity that could desire such sympathy.

Two friends, Christian Scientists, alighted from a trolley-car with a half-mile walk before them over a rough road. One of them had hurt her foot, and on stepping to the ground she said, "It doesn't seem as if I could take that walk home." False sympathy would have said: "Oh, you poor thing, I am so sorry for you. How can I help you? Lean on me," and the two would have hobbled uncomfortably and anxiously down the road. But true sympathy said no such thing. It said: "You are God's perfect child, upheld by His power. You can realize the truth of the Scripture promise, 'He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength ... they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.' " As this was realized she leaned on Truth instead of a mortal arm, and her courage being strengthened by these words of true sympathy, she walked firmly toward home. In less than a quarter of the distance she was going freely over the frozen ruts without any sense of pain. Would it not have been the weakest of cowardly self-pity that would desire a so-called sympathy which would have hindered her progress, instead of the true words which helped her forward? And still, an outsider who knew nothing of Christian Science might have thought the words harsh which denied pain instead of condoling with it.

We can never get rid of evil by coddling it. It would seem easier at times to have our friends "sympathize" with us over our sensitive nature and its numerous hurts than to find a friend loving and strong and sympathetic enough to tell us that our sensitive nature is only another name for selfishness and weakness, and that self-pity is a hindrance to all progress. But which sympathy takes us farther into the kingdom of heaven?

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"Act of God"
November 13, 1915

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