Denigrating Another’s Pain

Kilauea’s eruption has held us enthralled for days now. We have watched as the lava crossed a road to consume a car, watched in the distance as one house after another burns. In general, we are seeing the total destruction of these people’s lives and dreams. By the time the lava stops, some peoples whole property will be lost in a sea of hardened lava. You don’t even have any landmarks to tell which patch of lava was your yard. Since it may not stop for years, will be uninhabitable for more years, and can be covered again by a future lava flow, there is no going back. Remember, due to the incredibly high cost, no one had lave insurance, so it is a total loss.

Can you imagine someone listening to one of these people’s stories and saying, “I don’t see why you are special. My house caught on fire and we had to replace the kitchen, but the insurance paid for it. Just do like me and move on.” How utterly narcissistic. The person is comparing a relatively minor disaster to a complete catastrophe. There are various versions of this attitude. One who lives in earthquake country might say, “it is their fault for living on a volcano, so I don’t think the government should help.” If an earthquake should destroy their house, and nobody carries expensive earthquake insurance, that same person would be the first to demand government help. Try substituting other disasters like hurricane storm surge for similar results. Millions of people live in risky regions. Yet too many have narcissistic attitudes toward others who suffer. Why else did an American territory like Puerto Rico suffer such neglect after the recent hurricane damage?

I have seen a similar narcissism arise in response to the black community. Remember, I am an older white guy who grew up privileged and sheltered. I have listened to the Black community, and in every area of their lives, they get second rate treatment. One area is in police treatment. When we watch the news, again and again, we see armed white people get subdued by the police and arrested while we see unarmed black men get shot to death by the same police. They developed the slogan, “Black Lives Matter” to highlight the problem. Other groups have come up with slogans like “Blue Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter,” Yes, they matter, but this is the same narcissistic attitude that tries to not understand and to even deny the more major problem that the “Black Lives Matter” slogan sought to correct.

In 2 Tim 3:2 it says “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers.” Lovers of self is the definition of Narcissism. We are warned that these men will come. Compare this to the Christian standard in 1 Thess 3:12-13 “may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father.” We are told to love all people and to increase in that love till it abounds (or is abundant.) The only way we can do that is to listen to each persons story and to understand and care for their struggle. It is easy to be filled with narcissism. That is something that comes natural. But this love is something the Lord supplies. May you turn to Him so He can fill you.

8 thoughts on “Denigrating Another’s Pain

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  1. Well-spoken. True at so many levels. Without God’s heart and compassion flowing in us, consuming us like a candle and then like an oil lamp (hallelujah!) we are in the dark, get compassion fatigué, or worse yet, mock others pain. It is such a tender hearted God who comes to fill us to overflowing, and then gives us seeing eyes. Praise God from, whom all blessings flow!

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