“I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar Rivers. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days — overwhelmed.”
After a recent speaking engagement, a mentally disabled man who was wearing thick glasses and baggy trousers trotted up and gave me a big hug. We talked as he stood next to me, twisting his necktie with his finger. I asked about his church and his friends. Out of nowhere, he smiled, stuck out his chest and said, “Ezekiel 3:15… that’s what I like about my friends!”
It seemed a strange thing to say, so I asked him what is so special about the verse. He proudly quoted it:
“I came to the exiles who lived at Tel Abib near the Kebar Rivers. And there, where they were living, I sat among them for seven days — overwhelmed” (Ezekiel 3:15).
I gave him a strange look. He explained, “Don’t you get it? ‘I sat among them.’ And, wow, for seven days!”
A light dawned. “O-o-o-o-h,” I said. “I get it. You are pleased that your friends sit with you and get down on your level, right? And they try to see things from your perspective, the way you see them.” He nodded enthusiastically and went on to remind me that the captives in Ezekiel’s time must have really appreciated friends who would sit down with them seven whole days. That was a long time to be feeling someone else’s hurts.
As that mentally handicapped man walked away, I gained a new appreciation for how much the smallest of verses can help. Who would have dreamed that Ezekiel 3:15 would have anything to do with instructing friends on the fine art of compassion and empathy?
Lord, help me to get down on the level of those who hurt today. Help me to show a little empathy for those in need. You did it… Ezekiel did it… the friends of that disabled man do it every day. And I can do it, too.