EarthBasic. Take care. Bless many.
Read |Hebrews 4: 14 - 16|
This year, my life seems to be made up of one “time of need” after another and, I haven’t always handled it well. I’d like to blame my sinful, faithless responses on my chronic pain, but the truth is that the pain, rather than causing me to act out of character, in fact highlights my deepest fears, and brings my sin to the surface.
When I am hurting, I try to excuse my unkind or selfish actions. I think: How can I speak kindly to my son when I feel like my stomach is on fire? or; How can I be expected to ask my husband how his day was, when my day was so miserable? or; How can I face a future full of pain with hope, and not despair? And the truth is, without the power of Jesus, I can’t. As a fallen human, it is beyond my power to put my own discomfort aside for the sake of loving others.
If we turn the first phrase into a positive statement, Hebrews 4: 15 reads like this: “For we have a high priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” What comfort this truth can provide! Jesus has experienced the same discomforts that plague our days. He has been tired, hungry, and surrounded with people who constantly need him. Jesus has also endured deep grief, rejection, and physical torture. He has experienced the pain of being human. He understands when we cry out to Him in distress, because He cried out to His Father in His darkest hour. (Mark 14: 33-36).
Yet that’s not all verse 15 tells us. It continues: Jesus was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Every time He was faced with an opportunity to respond selfishly, He instead denied Himself to love others. He never snapped at His disciples in sinful anger, but patiently taught them over and over again about His coming kingdom. And Dear Ones, take this to heart: this perfect obedience, purchased on the cross, is attributed to us. Our angry, fearful, irritable, selfish hearts are washed clean in His blood, and covered in the pure white robe of His righteousness.
How are we to live in response to this extravagance? “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4: 16, ESV). We are called to approach our Savior, seated on the throne of heaven, with the confidence of a small child hopping into her loving daddy’s lap. Since He knows our weaknesses, we need not fear that He will respond in frustration. Our Elder Brother will not despise our creaturely problems. He will gladly welcome our requests for help.
When we don’t get enough sleep and wonder how we will make it through our to-do list, we can remember our Lord, who was once so tired that He fell asleep in a tiny, storm-tossed boat, and boldly ask for strength and endurance. (Matthew 8: 24). When we are beset by the needs of others, we can call to mind that Jesus also needed to refresh his soul after healing the sick, and seek the Father for rest and sustenance. (Mark 1: 32-35). When our frustration threatens to spill out angrily on others, Jesus’ example of a patient response to an offensive question can lead us to ask him for love and self-control. (Luke 9: 46-48). And when pain wracks our bodies, we can fix our eyes on the cross, see the nails in His hands and feet, and know that He also has suffered. He is with us in every trial, understanding our needs and our temptations, and giving us His Resurrection power to respond with love, selflessness, patience, courage, and strength.
Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, bringing our needs before His Father. Jesus is praying for us! He is our closest Friend, our faithful Brother, our beautiful Savior. He sends His Holy Spirit to awaken our hearts to love Him and love our neighbors.
Dear Jesus, we lay our weakness at the foot of the cross, and receive your spotless robe of righteousness. Enable us to continually - by the minute! - confess our struggles to You, and receive forgiveness and understanding. We know You may not take away our pain or exhaustion or grief or irritation, but we know You can give us power to endure them, and even give us joy in their midst. We want to know You more fully so we can love You more deeply, and live our lives to Your glory. In Your precious and holy name, Amen.
Carolyn Sinclair McCalla is a daughter of God, with a passion for encouraging women to embrace the fullness of God's love for them in Jesus Christ. She leads the Be-Held Community: a group of women seeking, living and being transformed by the truth of God’s Word together.