What feels like a very long time ago, I taught second grade. Leah Freeman was in the very last class I ever taught. She's a grown woman now, pursuing a master's degree, with the sweetest heart for God and people. Please welcome her to this space today.
Nearly two years ago, I walked with a dear friend through the death of her father. It was completely unexpected, and she suddenly found her “world flipped upside down,” to use her and her husband’s words. I had to learn very quickly how to bear her pain without breaking and, as many can relate, this felt impossible.
I soon found that I not only took on her pain, along with my own and the rest of the world’s, but it seemed that all I noticed were the world’s hurts. I only saw brokenness. I couldn’t notice sunshine and leaves and grace when all I could see was death, addiction, assault, depression, and pain. It seemed that every news story I saw cut me deeply. When I heard about divorce or bullying or racism, I wouldn’t be surprised, because I soon realized that I was consistently expecting pain that had an unrelenting grip on those around me. As you can imagine, having faith seemed nearly impossible for me. “Lord, if we have a hard time bearing the pain of others without breaking, how are we supposed to live without crumbling?” But then I understood –
We were never meant to.
As I look at the life of Jesus, I see Him setting an example as He completely relied on the Father. I love the passage that says, “For 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” (Heb. 4:15). I truly believe that Jesus was tempted to wave a white flag in surrender, even as He knew that salvation would come through His death. He begged God to take this cup from Him, and yet He walked forward in obedience. Later in that passage, in chapter 5, the author talks about how, yes, “Jesus offered up prayers and supplications,” but He did so with “loud cries and tears” (Heb. 5:7).
He felt our pain. He saw sadness and brokenness everywhere He went, and He even saw hurt in the eyes of His closest friends and family. However, He could bear it. It may have felt impossible, but He would combat that thinking by speaking truth to Himself and others. When asked how salvation could be possible, “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible’” (Matt. 19:26). Jesus fully knew that we were never meant to carry the burden of salvation, but God made the impossible possible; Jesus knew that this was His purpose, but He also knew that our purpose was also far from over. As he prayed to the Father for the disciples and those that would come after them, He pleaded:
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world” (Jn. 17:15).
Many times, yes, it is easier for us to look at God and wonder why He doesn’t just take us off the earth already – especially if we tend to easily get caught up in “What if?” questions! But the beauty of it is that Jesus specifically asked the Father to keep us in this world. Friends, God isn’t finished working through you yet. I truly believe that our God is a loving Father who wants more than anything to have you home with Him – just not now. Because even as the disciples were filled with sorrow at Jesus leaving them, He promised that it was better, for He was sending the Spirit, His Spirit to be with us while we are here on the earth. And in that I take hope. I take hope with the writer of Hebrews who proclaims that his hope is “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever…” (Heb.6:19-20). Jesus intercedes for us. He hurts with us. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He loves us. He gives us strength. He came down to make a way for us to place not just our burdens, but others’ burdens, on His shoulders. And in that I rejoice.
Supplemental Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFkDqQtfs0w
Leah is currently in school to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and works at an adoption agency with families pursuing embryo adoption. She is a number one fan of meaningful conversations, creation care, travel, social justice, fireflies, people, and their Creator. You can follow her blog at https://seekitlikesilverblog.