March 10, 2016

Familiar With Suffering

Isaiah 53:1-4

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.

—  Isaiah 53:3

Have you ever wondered whether Jesus really understands what you’re going through when you suffer? Suf­fer­ing can be so lonely. We sometimes wonder whether anyone, especially Jesus, knows, cares, or can relate.

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be well acquainted with suffering. Jesus’ suffering started the first day of his life. Think about it: the Son of God was born without anyone noticing. How different it is today when royalty is born. There’s a nine-month birth watch. Not so with Jesus.

His suffering continued through­­out his life. He was despised, hated, and rejected. He had no place to call home. There was nothing in his appearance to draw us to him. In fact, we might even have been repulsed.

Jesus’ sufferings, though, were greatest at the end of his life. He was mocked, spit on, deserted by his disciples, and ultimately crucified. He died alone, carrying our sin.

Can Jesus relate to your suffering? Yes. But don’t forget that he suffered not just to relate but to save. His suffering was redemptive. He suffered for us so that our sufferings as believers might give us one more way to show we are becoming like him. Bring your sufferings to God in prayer, and know that God cares because of Jesus.

Lord Jesus, we bring our suffering cries to you, know­ing that you understand what suffering is. Use our sufferings to make us more like you and to draw us closer to you. In your name, Amen.

About the author — Tom Groelsema

Tom Groelsema and his wife, Sheri, have served churches in Minnesota, Michigan, and North Carolina. They have four children and three granddaughters.

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