We all suffer in this life and that should be a bond that holds us together. I believe that’s the point of Hebrews 13:3. It says, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” We all walk through the valley of the shadow of death together. The most obvious things we share in common is that we will all die someday. According to Eddie Rasnake, “When the Titanic set sail, the wealthy and important occupied the most luxurious cabins, but when she sank, class and rank were no guarantee of survival. Because saving women and children first was a naval tradition, a woman traveling in third class was more likely to survive than a man in first class. …Some on board may have thought themselves better or more important than others because of wealth or position, but when the Titanic started to sink, they learned they were really ‘all in the same boat.’ They were all passengers headed for disaster and in need of rescuing.[1]

Getting tested for the coronavirus seems to have become a thing only for the elite or those with influence and money. But in the long run, none of it really matters because when it’s our time to go “all your money won’t another minute buy.” Being in the same boot should arouse a sense of community with us all. We should all be able to relate to each other’s sufferings. It reminds me of Paul’s instructions regarding intimate identification with one another. He says in Romans 12:15, we should “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” He writes to the Philippians with similar ideas. In Philippians 2:1-2 he says, “ So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.” Believers too will all die one day, but they also share a common destiny which should serve to bind us even more together.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work that way. We become too caught up with the “works” of our hands and the need to impress and to accomplish things in life that we lose our ability to identify with the suffering and hurt of others. Kent Hughes shares a great story from Herman Melville’s novel “White Jacket.” It seems, “…one of the ship’s sailors became desperately ill with severe abdominal pain. The ship’s surgeon, Dr. Cuticle, waxes enthusiastic at the possibility of having a real case to treat, one that challenges his surgeon’s ability. Appendicitis is the happy diagnosis. Dr. Cuticle recruits some other sailors to serve as his attendants. The poor seaman is laid out on the table, and the doctor goes to work with skillful enthusiasm. His incisions are precise, and while removing the diseased appendix he proudly points out interesting anatomical details to his seaman-helpers who had never before seen the inside of another human. He is completely absorbed in his work and obviously a skilled professional. It is an impressive performance, but the sailors – without exception – are not impressed but are rather appalled. Why? Their poor friend, now receiving his last stitch, has long been dead on the table! Dr. Cuticle had not even noticed. Cold Dr. Cuticle – a man with ice water in his veins – was insensitive and void of empathy.”[2]

[1] Eddie Rasnake, The Book of Romans, Following God Series (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2005), 31–32.

[2] R. Kent Hughes, Hebrews: An Anchor for the Soul, vol. 2, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 210–211.