Absence of an Empathetic Witness

“Who will rise up for me against the wicked?
    Who will take a stand for me against evildoers?
Unless the Lord had given me help,
    I would soon have dwelt in the silence of death.
When I said, ‘My foot is slipping,’
    your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me,
    your consolation brought me joy. Psalm 94:16-19 NIV

“The greatest cruelty is our casual blindness to the despair of others.” Anonymous

The Absence of an Empathetic Witness was a quote in an encouraging email I received. Makes tremendous sense!  And so cruel! This is why we “Survivors” (hate saying victims) seek help. Counselors, pastors, books and friends all have their place in healing from trauma. We may not have complete healing here on Earth (thorn in the side?) but connection, belonging, loving and being loved are available in abundance if we have the courage to seek it.

The Father is an empathetic witness. The Son is an empathetic witness. The Holy Spirit is an empathetic witness. At any time and any place 24 hours a day.

Included in the article were symptoms of lacking an empathetic witness, especially in childhood:

Physical problems like overeating, drinking, not sleeping or sleeping too much, being startled easily and more.

Emotional problems like anxiety, avoiding people or situations, depression and lack of hope are soul-crushing. They stick like Gorilla glue and we don’t even know why. We need to know why.

Another symptom is doing too much. Always going and if you stop, the world will end. A hamster on a wheel but the hamster enjoys it—he was made for it. You are not a hamster. You are a beloved child of God.

Shame. From all-out efforts to manage the perceived faults in ourselves. We’re the worst!

How discouraging if we had to do this by ourselves and thankfully, we don’t! Jesus encouraged us to “ask, seek, knock and we will find.” Seeking takes courage and work. It won’t be linear. Some days you’ll knock it out of the park and other days will seem like setbacks. Part of the process, journey and character building. But as they say in AA, “Keep coming back. It works!” Just showing up is progress, especially with faith.


“I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. And so I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus. You are always in my heart!” Paul said this in Philippians and if he needed others to help him, we do too. I thank you and know you’re always in my heart.


Dear Father,

We thank You for:

Loving us.

Being proud of us.

Helping us to say we’re sorry and counseling us.

For Listening.

For guiding us into what is our responsibility and what is not.

For encouraging us and showing us we have what it takes.

For being with us every minute of every day and not abandoning us.

For being the true Empathetic Witness.


Published by Barbara Hinther

Barbara Hinther author of Meditations and Encouragement for the Caregiver of a Loved One with Dementia and What About Me, God. Time to share what she has learned and hopefully, others will know they are not alone. This too, shall pass with beautiful, yet painful, lessons. Barbara lives in a rural town in Idaho where all is community. Bless everyone in the community for their support and their never-ending let’s pitch in attitude! She worked in marketing for over 30 years and volunteered with the Idaho Youth Ranch and St. Vincent’s de Paul Thrift Store. Then her hardest job ever was caring for her husband who died from Lewy body dementia and needed her full-time care. Feelings of abandonment were constant. Life was very difficult for a while, but love, faith and hope will overcome. Let the adventure continue!

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