Wednesday, June 8, 2016

alone in suffering?

I don't know about you, but for me suffering makes me draw away from everyone and retreat into myself. I've spent a lot of years trying to “be strong” for those around me, and as a result I tend to try to deal with heartache on my own.

Or more accurately, I don't deal with it—but I do it on my own.

When it comes to dealing with heartache and suffering, we have the ultimate example to follow: Jesus.

As the oldest son of a carpenter, I doubt anyone would say Jesus was weak. And even when He knew the cross was coming, He didn't walk away. His heartache was so intense that night in the garden that He sweat drops of blood. No matter what I've faced, it's never been that intense.

Jesus stood on “trial” where He was mocked and beaten. The flesh on His back would have been ripped apart by the whip, the thorns on the “crown” shoved into His scalp and forehead. Through all of it—the nails being driven through His hands and feet, the excruciating pain of pushing His weight up with His pierced feet in order to draw each breath, then carrying all that weight on His torn hands to relieve His feet—He could have simply stepped down from the cross.

The One who walked on the water and commanded the storm to be still and fed thousands from 2 fish and 5 little loaves of bread didn't have to hand on that cross with the weight of my sins—your sins—on His shoulders. Yet He chose to face that suffering.

No matter what I'll face in the future, it can never be that agonizing.

Through all of it, though, Jesus didn't just face it on His own. Hebrews 5:7 tells us that He cried out to the only One who could save Him:

“When Jesus was on the earth,
a man of flesh and blood,
He offered up prayers and pleas,
groans and tears
to the One who could save Him from death.”

Now, you and I both know what happened after Jesus called out to God—He took His last breath and died on the cross.

But here's what I found pretty remarkable. The end of that verse goes on to say, “He was heard because He approached God with reverence.”

He was heard.

As He hung on the cross, asking God why He had been forsaken, forgotten, left--
He was heard.

In the middle of your suffering, when you cry out to God with tears and groans and feel alone and abandoned--
You are heard.

Verses 8 & 9 go on to say,
“Although He was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. And once He was perfected through that suffering He became the way of eternal salvation for all those who hear and follow Him.”

As hard as it is, there's something to be learned from suffering—and if you're like me, maybe it's something you're too hard-headed to learn any other way. Jesus suffered because through His suffering He was being used for something glorious. Through your tears and pain, perhaps God is preparing you for something far greater.

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