My mother lay dying in the hospital. She had been ill for just over 9 years from lymphoma. I was only able to put wet toothettes to her lips, as she was no longer drinking or eating. I had been there visiting. Exhausted and emotional, I went home home, unplugged the phone, turned the lights off, and went to sleep. After I woke up, I plugged in the phone and found out that she died when I was at home. I was 22 years old.
Unfortunately, when I was young, I experience or observed more suffering than typical for my age. Cancer had hit my parents hard. Both of my parents died of Cancer in their 50’s. My mother, in particular, had repeated visits to the hospital because her lymphoma had knocked her immune system so low that she was frequently in the hospital over 9 years. She had just fought and lost her latest battle and she passed.
Sorrow is a fact of our lives. Directly affecting our life, our extended family, or our friends’ lives each year. Existence on earth is not all roses, but an winding course of events that bring both joy and sadness to ourselves and those around us. As we get older, we know more people with family health crises, accidents, and death. What hope do we in this life to get through these tough times? What support? In Jesus, we have a proven hope and help when dealing with sorrowful events. He came down from Heaven to be among us.
Matthew 1:23 “The virgin is going to have a baby. She will give birth to a son. And he will be called Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The name Immanuel means “God with us.”
His name, Immanuel, brings us joy when we sing it during Christmas time because we know that our divine help is finally here to be our Savior in this world. The phase “God with us” would mean nothing unless it had implications of help in times of great need.
Made Like Us to Know Us
Jesus was brought into this world, in part, to experience humanness. He experienced what it is like to suffer. Think of that – God suffered! But Why? Jesus lived a human life so that He could be the perfect high priest when we or those around us suffer and sin. He understands temptation, pain, hunger, exhaustion, and depression. He can help us through our weakness and our suffering.
Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
A Personal God
Jesus Wept. That is a powerful statement. He was brought to tears not only by his emotion but the emotion of others due to the death of Lazarus. They had come to Him in their distress. Mary knew that the Lord had the power to save Lazarus, but He delayed on purpose. He was still on the way to meet them. Mary approached Him, weeping, and told him as much. The Lord knew that he was going to raise Lazarus as a sign of His divinity and power. It was already determined. Even knowing this, Jesus, in His humanity, still felt deeply his own pain and the pain and suffering of His people. We have a God who will weep with us in our sorrow!
John 32-36 “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.”
35 Jesus wept.
36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Comforter In Our Sorrow
Even in His suffering while dying on the cross, Jesus reached out to comfort his mother.
John 25-27 “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”
As Christians, we use the cross as a sign of comfort because of what Jesus did for us. The cross, a device of Roman and ancient torture and punishment, is now turned into a sign of encouragement and joy.
Romans 8:31-32 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”
Jesus is the perfect Chaplain. He, who is God, was made like us to knows us, love us, cry with us, and comforts us. He is indeed our Immanuel -“God with us”. When my mother died I drew on the power, mercy, and love of the great comforter to lean on, cry out to, and rest on His promises in my year of need.
- Have you ever felt God’s love in a time of sorrow?
- How have you seen God provide during times of tragedy?
- How can you help a suffering friend through their time of need?
New International Reader’s Version. 1998 (1st ed.) (Mt 1:23), (Jn 19:25–27). Zondervan.
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2016 (Jn 11:32–37), (Heb 2:16–18) , (Ro 8:31–32) Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.