Jesus Christ Is the Way Through Your Suffering
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How can trust in Jesus bring you through a trial? Why would He help in the first place?
The Bible tells us Jesus does "sympathize with our weaknesses." Why does the Creator of the universe care about us at that personal level? Because He was tempted in every way, just as we are (Hebrews 4:15). What does that mean? It may be hard to understand how God Himself could, for instance, understand a woman's needs. Or empathize with depression and loss. What of the trauma of a divorce?
Paul explains that we are not alone in our trials (1 Corinthians 10:13). If you attend a Christian fellowship, you find others going through similar experiences (2 Corinthians 1:3-6). This is strengthening. Yet each of us has his own pain, trial and anguish that we may think no one else can really understand.
We may wonder whether God can feel our pain. Can God appreciate the depth of human despair? Peter wrote that Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example (1 Peter 2:21). In what ways did Jesus lead the way? What confidence can we have that He understands the personal trauma of every one of His people?
Jesus Understands Human Frailty
Jesus understands what it's like to have an imperfect, frail human body. Isaiah was inspired to write that Christ's physical appearance didn't make Him especially attractive or desirable (Isaiah 53:2). In other words, He was apparently average looking. Just like you, at times His body got just plain tired. He rested at the well of Samaria because He was physically weary and thirsty (John 4:6-7).
Like any other human, He needed time to recuperate from the stress of heavy responsibility, for the weight of the world really was on His shoulders. After periods of hectic activity, He withdrew to areas of solitude to refresh Himself and recuperate (Mark 6:31).
Jesus Understands That Our World Isn't Fair and Right
A huge amount of our human stresses and pains come from the societies we live in. Governments are often inefficient at best and abusive at the worst. Injustices and acts of aggression were just as much a part of His world as they are ours. Jesus' life was regulated by an oppressive system of at times foolish laws and regulations, just like ours can be, depending on where we live.
Jesus knew the burden of oppressive government and the sting of racism. He lived in Judea under the occupation forces of the mighty Roman Empire, which treated His people harshly. He was personally insulted, accused of being illegitimate and "born of fornication" (John 8:41).
Jesus Understands Relationship Problems
Many of our problems come from strained or broken relationships with members of our family and close friends. Often we feel the most stress and pain from the people we love most. Jesus had to deal with this too. His own brothers didn't believe in Him (John 7:5). His disciples were His best friends, but even they abandoned Him when He was arrested (Mark 14:43-50). The next day many of His disciples were still too frightened to be publicly seen as He was beaten and executed. "But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things" (Luke 23:49).
What about other interpersonal relationships? Jesus wasn't married, so how can He understand marriage problems? How can Jesus understand what it's like to live with a difficult or even unfaithful mate?
The fact is, He can. He is symbolically married to the Church (2 Corinthians 11:2; Revelation 19:7). How often do we, as individual Christians, let Him down and act unfaithfully toward Him? (Jeremiah 3:6-14). He is not only prepared to take the Church back, He will receive each of us when we repent and pledge ourselves to live faithfully with Him.
Jesus Understands Illness and Pain
The world is full of people going through physical suffering that comes from illness or violence or simple accidents. If you're in a situation like that, please know that Christ understands the depths of your suffering. In Jesus' last hours as a human being He was falsely accused, mocked, reviled, sworn at, spat upon and slapped in the face. He suffered a brutal beating before His crucifixion, which in itself was an extremely painful and humiliating way to die. You can read about His suffering in each of the Gospels to get just a small part of an idea of what He went through.
Isaiah prophesied about Jesus' suffering: "There were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness" (Isaiah 52:14, New International Version). Apparently Jesus was barely recognizable as a human after the awful beating He suffered. As God in the flesh, did He want to live physically any less than we do? No, He didn't want to feel the agony of crucifixion and death. He even asked God the Father if it were possible to not go through this trial (Luke 22:42). But He endured the pain so He could sympathize with us as our High Priest and so we could be forgiven of our sins (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Jesus Understands Grief and Sorrow
Before His own physical death, Jesus was no stranger to loss and grief. Jesus was overcome with grief and wept when His friend Lazarus died (John 11:35). Even more poignant is how He viewed all of the people He met and served. As God and the Creator of all things, including humanity, Jesus experienced intense sorrow about what humans do to themselves and to each other through sin.
He looked at the city of Jerusalem and wept because of the tragedy the city had seen and would see in the near future. He was experiencing a profound sense of grief over the way His children were suffering and living in pain (Luke 19:41-44).
Begin to work through your suffering today
Know for certain that you have a faithful God and High Priest who walked this physical life ahead of you. He knows what it means to suffer.
Christ meant it when He told us: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
Jesus wants you to approach God the Father with your cares in prayer. Even when you have unanswered prayers, trust in God's promises to listen and care for you. Remember Paul's example. Even though God's answer isn't always what we wanted, it is always what's best for us.
When you're suffering, approach God boldly and confidently in prayer. Know with every pain you suffer that Jesus is your High Priest. He hears, knows and understands how you feel. When we love and obey Him, God will cause even our biggest mistakes, hardships and pain to work out for good (Romans 8:28).
God the Father and Jesus Christ have a plan for you. Their Kingdom is coming. It's a beautiful Kingdom where there will be no more pain and suffering (Revelation 21:4). They want you to be a part of their Kingdom (2 Peter 3:9).
Pray to God. Study His Word in the Bible. He wants to be your loving Father now and forever. Seek Him for comfort today, in your hour of need.