Friday, December 1, 2017

I Know Just How You Feel

Copyright: altanaka / 123RF Stock Photo
My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,
    like a root in dry ground.
There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance,
    nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected—
    a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
    He was despised, and we did not care.
~ Isaiah 53:2-3, NLT ~

Christmas season is here. The beginning of Advent is just days away. It is the time of year where we focus on that most impossible of realities — that the All-Powerful God of the Universe contained all of that awesome might into a tiny, fragile human, became one of us, and remained with us for 33 years. Not only so, but that same small infant grew into a man that took the full punishment for our wrongdoing and secured a place for us in heaven.

When this season pushes through the long gray of Autumn, my focus is forced to readjust. Rather than concentrating on my own pitiable circumstances, personal pain, foul mood, or perceived injustices, Jesus gently captures my attention. His journey suddenly becomes very much my own.

It can be so easy for me to get stuck in my own circumstances. Life never seems fair for our family. My kids always seem to be pushed to the margins, bullied, rarely-if-ever recognized for the remarkable individuals that they are. Poverty never seems to stop nipping at our heels. While others are enjoying nice vacations, we're just praying we aren't turned in to the collection agency for yet another late medical bill payment. Even our own church keeps us at arm's length, no concern for how we are doing, not noticing that my kids have long since given up on church attendance. Our problems seem huge and our blessings are measured by the millimeters. That hope that things will ever get better — that my husband can ever retire from a job; that we will ever scrape enough nickles together to do simple repairs on our dilapidated house; that we will ever be out from the relentless debt we constantly carry on our shoulders; that we will ever find a place of acceptance; that things might one day just be a little bit easier; all died long ago. I'll bet you know just how we feel.

God knows just how we feel too. That daring abandonment of heaven for 33 years bridged a chasm of isolation. There is no misunderstanding when it comes to our Savior. Jesus knew just what it was like to be a nobody. Danger constantly nipped at His heels. Those He would have hoped to love and accept Him most rejected Him — people in His own family, His own town, His own house of worship. 

Life definitely wasn't fair for Him! 

Wasn't it enough that He departed from the boundless glory of heaven to reach us? Instead of being welcomed with the high honor and recognition He is due, His arrival was barely noticed. Born in the stench and filth of a feces filled cave, life could not have seemed much lower for His poor family. As a toddler, His family had to flee the country to escape a murderous madman who was ruling their nation. Hadn't His family endured enough? Still, His earthly father died before Jesus even began His public ministry. From the time he stepped away from the hard work of carpentry, He faced nothing but adversity. Though fully God, His church leaders demeaned and threatened Him. His siblings thought He was crazy. Followers ditched Him when His teaching was difficult or convicting. And comfort was foreign to Him as He told would-be disciples, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58, NIV) 

It certainly wasn't fair that He went to the cross. That was the ultimate injustice. A real murderer was set free as He was beat to a bloody pulp, ensnared by jealous bullies. He was nothing but kind, and humble, but doing the right thing did not get Him out of the torture and suffering He faced. It was NOT a happy ending for Him or His family. Even so, He was willing to face it ALL for the sake of eternity.

Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. (Hebrews 4:14-16, NCV)

When I consider all of this, the sorrow my family and I can feel around the Christmas season suddenly shrinks. How can I not feel grateful and blessed? Jesus' experience validates my own. He gives me hope when my earthly life feels completely hopeless. And I feel fiercely loved that Someone would put Himself through to assure He wouldn't be without me in heaven. Yes, the wounds of my heart are soothed by the balm of my Creator tenderly comforting me with the words, "I know just how you feel." 

Pray with me...

Holy God, You make the rules. You didn't have to leave the majesty and comfort of Your glorious heaven to come rescue me, to rescue us, but You did. Your full justice, mercy, and compassion were put on display by both coming to dwell among us for 33 years and taking our place on that cross. Life may not be fair, but You are still good. How blessed are we when we have the consolation and assurance of a Savior who knows just how we feel! Thank You, Jesus.

~ Barb Dittrich

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your vulnerability and refocus. So very good.