“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16 (NIV UK)
Some Christians wrongfully believe that if their faith is strong enough, they will never suffer. But that idea distorts the gospel. Jesus did not promise to airlift us out of life’s troubles. Jesus promised that when we suffer, we could experience God’s gift of peace. Even when we feel alone, God is right there with us. There’s no situation beyond his reach. This assurance allows us to have a peace that passes all understanding.
One of the ways God gives us this peace is by reassuring us that he understands exactly what we’re going through. During the incarnation, Jesus experienced fear, pain, suffering and death. Knowing that he was about to be tortured and then crucified, Jesus prayed with great emotion. And on the next day, hanging from the cross, in one of his final tortured breaths, Jesus shared in our despair when he cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
This anguished cry from the cross tells us that Jesus fully enters into our pain, our suffering and death. Jesus is right by our side throughout all our trials. His assurance isn’t just a “get well soon” tweet from the comfort and safety of heaven. He is personally and actively at work here and now—suffering along with us through each heartache.
And he not only meets us in our sufferings but also promises to raise us up with him on the other side. He guarantees that all our sufferings will be made redemptive like Christ’s. God has not allowed anything to happen which he will not redeem, including the crucifixion of the Son of God.
His presence, though invisible, is real. He cries with us; he aches with us. He is so close to us, that Paul could say that our suffering somehow is a sharing in Jesus’ own suffering. Paul declares that because he shares in our sufferings we will share in his redemption and that we will see that it was worth it all. Paul proclaims: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18).
We can take great comfort in knowing that Jesus is willing and fully able to “empathise with our weaknesses” and share with us his hope in God’s redemptive purposes, and that’s a truth that gives us true peace.
Merciful Father, so often when we suffer loss or illness and other setbacks, we feel alone. Yet time and again you assure us that you walk with us and that never are we alone. We ask your help in not only realising this, but believing it and living our lives in the sure knowledge that you care, you love us and that you understand how frail we are. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by Joseph Tkach, from Day By Day