I just finished a 3 month sabbatical! I went into it on a journey towards emotional health. It started about five years ago, when I was introduced to the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. It’s been a slow journey. I’ve re-read EHS a few times and referred back to chapters another half dozen. It’s been useful in helping me navigate relationships, but also propelled me on a journey of inner healing.
I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ life recently, especially as it pertains to how I relate to Him and His suffering. Some things, like you, I was very aware of. Of course, Jesus suffered tremendously. For those of us who believe He was a real person that’s undeniable. We remember it ever time we take communion. His body was beaten and he hung on a cross and died for our sins.
I don’t want to downplay this incredible act of forgiveness and grace. It is the most amazing thing in all eternity! But maybe because it is such a God-like, giant action that sometimes I struggle with relating it to my journey (and therefore my own pain and sorrow).
If you go a little more in depth in Jesus’ life you might remember a story of Jesus being tempted by Satan in the desert (Matt 4). This story is much more relatable, but a 40 day fast, talking with Satan, and angels taking care of Jesus — I believe it’s true, but that’s not the way things happen with me. I’m assuming nothing like this has happened to you too.
Then I started thinking about Jesus’ pre-ministry life. There is the complication of Jesus’ mother being a virgin when she gave birth. The first and only time that has happened. But what did that feel like from Jesus’ perspective? Did His brothers know their dad wasn’t Jesus’ birth dad? Did they treat him differently? Did Mary try so hard to make him feel like He was just like the other siblings, that she over-compensated? Was their family outcasts because Mary couldn’t explain who the birth father was? Did Jesus get teased or bullied?
What about Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph? We don’t know a lot about Joseph. We know he was a good man. We know he brought up his children with the Jewish customs and that he passed his carpentry trade on to Jesus. And we know he died sometime between Jesus’ age of 12 and 30.
Yes…Jesus could have been brought up in a single parent home. How’s that for relatability? Jesus buried a parent way before he was suppose to. He became very familiar with the pain and sorrow of losing a loved one — too early.
And then there’s all of Jesus’ friends leaving him at the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter denying his friendship 3 times. And of course, Judas. One of his closest friends betrayed him.
Has anything like that ever happened to you? Yes, I thought so.
You got passed over for the promotion at work. Your marriage has more conflict than joy. Loss of a loved one. Loss of a job. A friend betrayed your friendship. What friends? You eat alone most nights. Pain. Disappointment. Suffering. Three words we learn very fast in this life.
The next three words that come out of our mouths is usually some variation of, “It’s not fair! ”
This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:15-16
A lot of Jesus’ story reads as current as today’s news feed. He faced our same testings. Our same pain. And now, Romans 8 tells us He is seated at the right hand of the father pleading for us.
The God that we serve and entrust our life to understands exactly the way we feel. He knows the sorrow of loss. He knows the gut wrenching feeling of betrayal. And everything He went through was for you and me.
When bitterness, sorrow, and depression begin to fill your heart, meditate on Hebrews 4. Our High Priest understands us. Take comfort that He has gone through many of the same things you have — He has felt the same feelings — and God strengthened Jesus to fulfill His plan for His life. And God will do the same thing for you too!