As we near the latter part of this time in which we reflect deeply on the coming of Jesus to the cross on which He will die, it should be meaningful the heart of Jesus towards sinners. Of course, Jesus identifies with us in our humanity, a truth He purposefully demonstrates for us in His baptism (an act of a diving God in declaring his solidarity with us in our humanity; Matthew 3:13-17, Mark 1:9, Luke 3:21-22, John1:26-33).
Jesus tasted life as we have with all its suffering, struggling, sickness, and sorrow and knows well the pressures and challenges we each face. “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One Who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15 ESV).
It should mean something to us then that much of the sorrow He felt was His sadness over our condition caused by our rebellion, pride, stubbornness, and fear. In John 11, Jesus even weeps over the great grief that his friends, Mary and Martha, feel over the death of Lazarus their brother (v. 11).
In Matthew 23, Jesus expresses a great sorrow in His heart when He laments over the lostness of the people and utter ruin to which their pride and fear were driving them.
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see Me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord’” (Matthew 23:37-39 ESV).
It may be that God’s genuine compassion for you and our world is not something you have ever heard of or believed in. Your pain and pride may tell you that no one knows what you’ve been through and no one can understand your suffering. Or you may have believed it (or tried to), but forgotten it and its power to encourage and strengthen you.
But God does know your pain. He knows your suffering. He feels your great sadness and loves you enough to even now speak to it if you’ll stop and listen to Him.
Asaph who penned Psalm 77 shares this very feeling. His heart is failing him and it feels as if there is no remedy for his pain.
“Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable? Has His steadfast love forever ceased? Are His promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up his compassion?” (Psalm 77:7-9 ESV).
But he knows what to do when he is in this dark place. He finds the medicine for despair in the Lord. “Then I said, ‘I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember Your wonders of old. I will ponder all Your work, and meditate on Your mighty deeds. Your way, O God, is holy. What god is great like our God? You are the God Who works wonders; You have made known Your might among the peoples. You with Your arm redeemed your people” (Psalm 77:10-15a ESV).
And it is to God, of course, that we should look. He not only knows each burden and pain you carry, every betrayal you’ve felt, every dream lost, and every tear shed, He also has the might and will to bring you out of darkness into the light of His hope. After all, that is what Jesus secures for us in His death and resurrection. The eternal light of His everlasting victory over sin and death on our behalf. All we need to do is yield our will, turn from our own way, and surrender to His love and forgiveness. This is where God would bring us, He leads His “people like a flock” (Psalm 77:20) to the fragrant and beautiful pastures of relationship with Him!
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 25 years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed are the work of the author.