I’ve often struggled to find commonality with the Son of God.
There have been many, many times where I have looked to the Savior of the world and wondered, “Why can’t you just get it? Don’t you understand that what I’m going through is killing me?”
“Where are you?”
“Why are you so silent?”
“You have no idea what I’m going through.”
If you’re anything like me, you’ve wondered the very same things on more than one occasion. The truth of life is that it can be very difficult at times. You have, I’m sure, experienced very dark times in your life. Whether it be at the hands of betrayal, death, or disaster, tragedy strikes quickly and often very painfully.
“I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word.” Psalm 119:28
There’s an incredible problem in the church and it is this: Christians are suffering in silence.
I fully believe that it is because we have developed a view of Jesus that leads us to believe that our lives should be nothing but happiness and joy.
What happens, though, when horrific tragedies strike? What hope can we find in a Jesus that says we should always feel joyful?
The truth is: We can’t.
Christians scream “run to God!” and are often found quoting “helpful” scriptures but really not digging much deeper than the surface level of the issues.
If you are of the belief that God exists, you’re more often than not subjected to the sometimes feeble hope that God understands and that He’s working in your life.
“Jesus will get you through.”
While those statements carry validity, what good are they when love and compassion are absent? Whether they will admit it or not, many Christians suffer in silence looking for ways to quench the raging fires of pain ravaging their way through your soul.
Instead of spouting the typical Christian cliches, I believe that Jesus gives us a far more powerful and more effective answer.
There’s an oft-quoted verse in the Bible and it holds great value and meaning to us “believers.” It’s found in Isaiah 53.
“For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Vv. 2-3
Some of the most beautiful pieces of Scripture are found within the pages of Isaiah. In this particular selection, Isaiah is prophesying of the coming Messiah, Jesus. The Jews had long been waiting for a Savior. Their hope was that he would be a warrior who would come and deliver them from their enemies with a swift vengeance. As you can see, Isaiah paints a different picture from their expectations.
In the middle of those verses, you will find a phrase that many quote but far too few deeply understand the depths of its meaning. Can you guess what it is?
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;”
Isaiah calls the coming Messiah, the Savior that the Jews had been longing for, a “man of sorrows.” Meaning, his life was replicated by sorrow. Jesus Christ, the one who took on flesh and sacrificed it for our sake, was “well acquainted with grief.”
Can we let that sink in for a moment?
Jesus dealt with depression.
Jesus Christ, being fully God and fully man, stepped into this world and subjected himself to every emotion, temptation, and desire that we face in order to qualify himself as the Savior. He isolated himself in a desert for 40 days and 40 nights being tempted by the devil. Having withstood the devil’s attempts, Jesus entered into a ministry that was plagued by rejection, hatred, and eventually his own murder.
How often do we hear a version of Christianity that is different from what Christ exampled? It is unfortunate that some paint Christianity out to be a “cake walk” while completely disregarding the eventual and promised struggles of life.
Not only was he a man of sorrow but Isaiah goes on to say that:
“he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds, we are healed.” Vv. 4-5
Jesus bore our grief. He carried our sorrow. This implies that he actively took on our own burdens and carried them for us. Where did he carry them? To the cross.
I often fall into deep discouragement, as every one of us does. It is incredibly difficult, in those times, to believe that anyone, let alone the God of the universe, knows what I am going through.
It is when I read verses such as the ones above that I realize I serve a Savior that knows EXACTLY what I’m going through. He has been there. He has felt it. He has conquered it and the same power that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of me.
Jesus, before his betrayal and eventual death, was praying in the garden of Gethsemane. Fully knowing what He was to endure, is praying before God, the Father, asking Him to remove his upcoming death. Jesus didn’t want to go through what He was about to experience. Christ was in so much agony over the situation that he began sweating blood.
Have you ever had anxiety that produced blood through your flesh in the form of sweat?
Jesus knows your pain.
He knows your anxiety.
He knows your sorrow.
This is why we hope in Christ. This is how we hope in Christ. Rejoicing in your sorrow does not necessarily mean wearing a smile on your face, pretending all to be fine. Sometimes it may but I believe that rejoicing in your sorrow means resting in the fact that Jesus has been where you are and overcame it. That is HOPE. The same power that rose Christ from the dead lives inside of you and me.
You may be going through hell on this earth and you may feel that no one is near.
You may feel that there is no chance at salvation but Jesus says otherwise.
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world, you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Life will be very difficult. If you are a Christian, Jesus guarantees that very truth. “You WILL have tribulation.” The difference is that, in Christ, we can see our struggles, feel the immense pain, but still say, “Jesus has been here, done that, and He overcame it. He gives me the same hope.”
Truly, my friends, if you follow Jesus Christ you will certainly be delivered from your distress. Whether God sees fit to deliver you now or in eternity, your pain will end. Rest in the promise that our God is faithful.
You are so loved.