September 11, 2018
You may think, “Nobody knows what I’m going through, nobody feels the pain I’m experiencing.”
But God knows!
He knows your feelings and frustrations. He’s seen the crisis in your soul. There’s no hurt that goes unnoticed by God. Psalm 56:8 says, “You know how troubled I am; you have kept a record of my tears.”1
Often when we’re hurting, we feel very isolated and lonely. Maybe there’s been a death in the family, a divorce, maybe we’ve gotten fired, and we start to think, “Nobody understands the way I feel; nobody can tell the way I feel; nobody feels the pain.”
But God knows, and “The LORD is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”2
God not only sees, He cares!
He knows the causes, the reasons, the things that brought you to this point. He understands because he made you, and he sees the hurt in your heart like nobody else can.
Because God knows our frustrations and despair, we can give those feelings to God: “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.”3 Cast them all permanently on God, once and for all, and then, don’t take them back.—Rick Warren
Of the many messages Jesus taught us … about stress, the first one is this: “God knows how you feel.”
Read how J. B. Phillips translates Hebrews 4:15:
For we have no superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible—he himself has shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned.
The writer of Hebrews is adamant almost to the point of redundancy. It’s as if he anticipates our objections. It’s as if he knows that we will say to God what my friend’s son said to him: “God, it’s easy for you up there. You don’t know how hard it is from down here.” So he boldly proclaims Jesus’ ability to understand. Look at the wording again.
He himself. Not an angel. Not an ambassador. Not an emissary, but Jesus himself.
Shared fully. Not partially. Not nearly. Not to a large degree. Entirely! Jesus shared fully.
In all our experience. Every hurt. Each ache. All the stresses and all the strains. No exceptions. No substitutes. Why? So he could sympathize with our weaknesses.
A politician dons a hardhat and enters the factory like he is one of the employees. A social worker goes to the inner city and spends the night on the streets with the homeless. A general walks into the mess hall and sits down with the soldiers like he is one of the enlisted men.
All three want to communicate the same message: “I identify with you. I can understand. I can relate.” There is one problem, though. The factory employees know that the politician’s hardhat will come off when the television crew is gone. The derelicts know that the social worker will be in a warm bed tomorrow night. And the soldiers are well aware that for every meal the general eats in the mess hall, he’ll eat dozens in the officers’ quarters.
Try as they might, these well-meaning professionals don’t really understand. Their participation is partial. Jesus’ participation, however, was complete.
Every page of the Gospels hammers home this crucial principle: God knows how you feel. From the funeral to the factory to the frustration of a demanding schedule. Jesus understands. When you tell God that you’ve reached your limit, he knows what you mean. When you shake your head at impossible deadlines, he shakes his, too. When your plans are interrupted by people who have other plans, he nods in empathy. He has been there. He knows how you feel.
He voluntarily became one of us. He placed himself in our position. He suffered our pains and felt our fears. Rejection? He felt it. Temptation? He knew it. Loneliness? He experienced it. Death? He tasted it. And stress? He could write a best-selling book about it.
Why did he do it? One reason. So that when you hurt, you will go to him—your Father and your Physician—and let him heal.—Max Lucado4
The reality is, when someone is suffering we don’t know what they’re going through. Even if we have experienced similar circumstances as a person who is suffering, we don’t process the world the way they do. And we don’t have the same personal history, biological makeup, or support system. When someone is going through the meat grinder, we can only know a tiny portion of what they are really experiencing.
Our limited ability to know the suffering of others is what makes 2 Corinthians 7:6 so precious. It says, “But God, who comforts the downcast…”
Jesus knows us fully. He knows our strengths and weaknesses, our family history, our biological makeup, our worldview. He knows every nook and cranny of us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And he also knows suffering on an intense, personal level. Jesus’ knowledge of suffering is not abstract, ivory tower, textbook knowledge. Jesus was a man of sorrows. He was mocked, betrayed, and humiliated. As he hung on the cross, he was cut off from the Father. Jesus knew excruciating, overwhelming, crushing sorrow.
The combination of Jesus’ omniscience and personal experience with deep suffering perfectly equip him to comfort us in our own suffering. He really does know what we’re going through, and he is ready to comfort us when we are downcast. He doesn’t leave us to muddle and slog through suffering on our own. He doesn’t tell us to suck it up, buck up, and get up. He meets us in our downcast state and pours out grace upon us.
Suffering tempts us to withdraw from God when in reality we should press hard into God. Are you downcast? Are you suffering? Do you feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out? Do you feel like butter scraped over too much bread? Draw near to the God who comforts the downcast. Draw near to the God who knows you exactly and knows exactly what you need. Draw near in your weakness and weariness and ready-to-call-it-quits-ness.
God has a special place in his heart for the downcast. Move toward that place.—Stephen Altrogge5
His love for you is unconditional. No matter how weak or disheartened you may feel right now, or disappointed in yourself or others, He still loves you. His great, perfect, marvelous, unconditional love is not lessened, no matter what the circumstances or conditions. He keeps pouring it on and pouring it on without measure and without limit. His love is so beautiful!
His love is always there for us, pouring forth in full measure, gushing forth in such abundance! And we can experience that love; we can have it manifested in our lives as we do our part to make a way, an avenue for His love to pour forth. We do that by staying close to Him and living in His Word, and by loving Him.—Maria Fontaine
Published on Anchor September 2018. Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
Music by John Listen.
1 Good News.
2 Psalm 103:13 NLT.
3 1 Peter 5:7 NLT.
4 Max Lucado, In the Eye of the Storm (Thomas Nelson, 2011).
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