Familiar with Suffering
“He grew up before him like a tender shoot…He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” Isaiah 53:2-3.
When I was young, I loved the felt board my Sunday School teacher used in mapping the walk of Jesus. His paper likeness was a man with a smile in sandals, and I loved moving Him from the side of the river to the gravel roads leading to church. It is easy to picture our sweet Jesus as a ‘felt board’ Jesus… a man favored and blessed by God with the answers to everything. But Jesus was no felt board man, and His life was anything but calm. As He grew in wisdom and stature, every circumstance led towards His final walk to the cross. Although the cross was where He drew His final breath, His heart had been shattered many times before, his brothers rejecting Him, his parents not understanding Him, His cousin John the Baptist murdered, one of His best friend’s death, and watching the heart wrenching grief of Lazarus’ sisters.
We cannot glamorize the life of this man who was hated, rejected, abandoned and brutally handled by the sinful nature of man. This tender man who was free of sin took on every wrong ever committed, and every future sin to be experienced.
When we feel rejected by others, we can know we have a Savior who understands this feeling. As we are heartbroken over the death of one we adore, we know that we share tears with One who also wept. When our hearts feel so saddened by life’s circumstances, we know that we are not alone in our sadness. When life makes us so familiar with suffering, we can fellowship with Christ on that level.
I am sure that the joy Christ experienced on earth was much like ours… spending time with those we love… being comforted through prayer when He didn’t feel He could continue. His fears had to be addressed just like ours and He no doubt used Scripture to bring Himself comfort.
When we feel familiar with suffering, Chapter 53 of Isaiah is a wonderful place to start. Don’t get me wrong…it is not a feel good chapter but a down in the trenches with Jesus chapter. It sums up the walk, death and resurrection of a flesh man into the Spirit man. It will humble, sadden, encourage, amaze and raise us up out of our own circumstances. It beckons us to look higher to heaven, beyond this world, outside of our pain and live on that level until we exchange our flesh body for our Spirit body. Be encouraged that whatever you are experiencing today is temporal, with better seasons up ahead. Take comfort in this and share this comfort with others - it is the way of our Lord and Savior.
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