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Changed In Suffering

He himself experienced this human weakness that he can help us in ours.

Matthew 26:36-46 is a chilling scene in a garden that shows Jesus alone. He was surrounded by his friends, and yet forgotten. He was praying to the Father who, several times before, affirmed his identity as son, and yet remained silent. Jesus experienced isolation minutes before his final arrest, trial, and execution would take place, and it was sealed with a kiss of betrayal.

This scene is one we often all feel at some point in our lives. Relationships can often become defining categories in our life. Isolation is easy to fall into when it seems as though your friends are too busy, your love life is failing, and you go unnoticed at work. Even when you do have these things, it sometimes feels like they are fragile artifacts that are disrupted or broken by a slight touch. So what does this have to do with Jesus?

Jesus invites us to see that even as God, he wasn’t absent from the human experience. He experienced the emotions of loneliness, disappointment, physical suffering, and ultimately death. It is because he himself experienced this human weakness that he can help us in ours. But there is one defining difference that we must acknowledge if we are going to be changed in our suffering instead of crushed by it.

The defining difference between our isolation and Jesus’ is that he did it voluntarily. He entered into suffering because he knew it was the only way to take care of ours. He had to be impacted by our sin, so that we could be freed through his forgiveness. This is a reminder that all weakness is a direct result of what we have done. It is only when we think we don’t deserve our isolation that we become bitter, and it is only when we realize that God joins us in it that we become changed. Jesus became isolated so that we wouldn’t have to, and regardless of what happens to us now, God is constantly with us to find joy in this life until we experience perfection in the next. So, may every moment of suffering be an opportunity to pray, “not my will, but yours”, knowing that it is God’s will to redeem us in our circumstance instead of just saving us from it.

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