Touched with the Feeling of Our Infirmities
July 24, 2019
by Caren Abraham
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, KJV).
Do you remember the day in dental school when you and all your classmates were compelled to participate in “stab lab,” “stick and squirt” or some other euphemistic label (if “stab lab” can be considered a euphemism) for the day when we all gave anesthetic injections to one another? For some it brings back painful memories, perhaps humorous memories of watching a classmate try to eat lunch with a fully anesthetized mouth, or maybe a fading memory after years in practice. Whatever the case, every dental student was subjected to this ritual with a singular purpose: to build empathy with our patients.
Dentistry is a profession that requires compassion on the side of the healthcare professional and trust on the side of the patient. The theory was that if you yourself had to undergo the experience of intraoral injections, you would better understand what a patient goes through when you administer anesthesia before a procedure. As much as I hate to admit it, I think the theory is a valid one, and participating in this experience has helped me be gentler with my patients during this rather frightening and painful part of a dental appointment. This, in turn, builds trust between the patient and the dentist, which opens the door to a good working relationship in the complexities of dental care. Certainly the experience was not enjoyable at the time, but it has benefitted thousands of patients since that day.
Interestingly, God, who created us and understands our human thought processes, has chosen to interact with us in a similar way, though obviously on a much grander scale and through a much deeper experience of suffering. God could have said that we must trust Him just because He said so. But instead, He showed compassion on mankind by sending Jesus to earth to experience suffering as a man. “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18, KJV). His trials took on all forms of human suffering: physical hunger and pain, spiritual temptations, rejection from those He loved and separation from His Father. Because of these experiences on earth, Jesus truly understands the feelings of our infirmities—our own trials and experiences of sorrow. Whether it is failing health, loss of a family member or false accusations at work, He has firsthand understanding of these trials and can comfort us in these times.
Through repeated experiences of His compassion and comfort we learn to trust Him confidently and build our relationship with Him. And as our relationship with Him grows, we can reflect that same compassion to those God places in our care each and every day.