A couple of years ago, a certain individual told me that a Christian should always be happy and joyful, regardless of any difficulty or hardship we’re faced with. That was his interpretation of that passage in Philippians chapter 4 where the Apostle Paul wrote about being content regardless of his circumstances. Yes, of course, we do have reason to be joyful because of our hope in Jesus Christ. We all know that. That’s not in dispute at all. But according to his interpretation, we as Christians are supposed to paint fake, plastic, phony smiles on our faces and never let on that we’re in pain. We’re never to let on that we’re hurting. We’re never to let on that we’re dealing with trials and hardship. It made me wonder if he truly knows our Lord Jesus as well as he claims.
In His humanity, Jesus suffered many sorrows. Isaiah called Jesus a man of sorrows. When Jesus told His disciples that He must suffer many things, it wasn’t just the cross He was referring to. Jesus suffered grief, anguish, panic, anxiety, frustration, anger, pain. In fact, I believe the range of emotions and pain and suffering Jesus went through were necessary and here is why I believe that. Even though He is God and Jesus completely understands the troubles and sorrows we face in life – God often allows suffering as a means of testing and to strengthen our faith – there is something about having experienced suffering and sorrow personally, while walking the earth in the flesh, that draws us much closer to Him. It makes our relationship with Jesus much more personal. God came down from Heaven in the person of Jesus Christ and endured suffering, not as one watching from a distance, but as one of us. Now in that statement, I’m not talking about His suffering on the cross. That was His and His alone to bear. I’m talking about His life prior to the cross.
Someone might say, “Jesus was never married, so He never experienced the pain of a cheating spouse, or a divorce.” In the Bible, His church is referred to as the “Bride of Christ”. That’s us. That’s you and me. That’s all believers. So wouldn’t it stand to reason that every time we sin, we’re cheating on Him. In the Old Testament God often compared Israel’s sins to adultery. In the New Testament, it’s called “grieving the Holy Spirit.” So don’t tell me He doesn’t understand the pain of betrayal. He understands it in a spiritual sense every time one of us sins. He understood it the night Judas betrayed Him in the garden.
Again, someone might try to say, “But Jesus never had to deal with drug addiction or alcoholism.” How tempting do you think it was for Jesus not to indulge in and to partake in everything He created? The Bible says He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. After 40 days in the desert, Satan tried to tempt Jesus to turn a rock into a piece of bread. Jesus had not eaten in all that time. Do you really think the lure of drugs and alcohol are more powerful than the hunger Jesus must have felt in that moment?
“Since Jesus never married, He never had children, so He never experience grief over the death of a child.” Every single person who has ever lived, is alive now, and has yet to be born is a child of God. Yet the majority of mankind will reject Jesus and forever be separated from Him, and will spend eternity in Hell. In the book of Ezekiel, the word tells us that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God will mourn over those who choose to spend eternity apart from His love. He will mourn the loss of the children who rejected Him.
“How can He know what it’s like to lose everything? How can He know what it’s like to suffer financial ruin? How can He understand the loss of a job or a home?”
The Bible tells that the earth and everything in it belongs to God. All the gold and silver, all the cattle on a thousand hills are His. It’s all His, yet Jesus gave it all up when He became man. He never once tried to lay claim to anything that rightfully belonged to Him while He was on earth. In fact, He pointed out that foxes have dens, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man did not even have a place to lay His head.
“Does Jesus truly understand our frustrations when we can’t find a decent job, or when it takes forever to recover from an illness or injury? Does He understand our frustration when we have to deal with a difficult child? Does He even understand what it is to be frustrated?” There were times when it seemed that His disciples could not grasp even the most basic principles of the Gospel. He was trying to prepare them to be world changers and they argued over which of them was the greatest. So yes, I would say it frustrated Him. When He was asleep in a boat in the middle of a storm, his followers woke Him up in a state of panic. What did He say after he calmed the storm? “You of little faith. Why are you so afraid?” When some of His disciples were unable to drive a demon from a young boy and Jesus had to step in do it for them, He said, “You unbelieving and perverse generation. How much longer must I stay with you. How long shall I put up with you?” Frustration is a human emotion, and that was part of His human experience.
“Did Jesus ever experience panic or anxiety?” Luke wrote that on the night He was betrayed, He was in great anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood. Judge for yourselves.
He experienced anger when He drove out the money changers and those who were selling sheep and cattle in the Temple. He experienced grief when Lazarus died. The Bible does not say specifically that He ever had women approach him with intentions that were – how can I put this – carnal. But again,we’re told He was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. So we can infer from that passage in Hebrews that He was tempted……in that way……at some point in His life. And yet…without sin.
That same passage in chapter 4 of Hebrews tells us that because Jesus experienced the same life experiences and temptations as us, yet without sin, we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with us. I mentioned earlier that it was necessary for Him to suffer these things, but it wasn’t because God had something He needed to learn through those experiences. There’s nothing God needs to learn. Jesus went through what He went through for our sake, to help us understand that we worship a God who can relate to our troubles in a very personal way. He knows our troubles and sorrows because He is the all knowing God, of course, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that He knows our troubles and sorrows……….because He also lived it.