Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
Pain increases our awareness—both within ourselves and outside of ourselves. Physical pain causes our senses to become more attuned. We monitor our physical sensations and determine if our health is improving or worsening. Our senses become more sensitive to sounds, touch, and bright light.
When experiencing emotional pain, such as grief, loss, or betrayal, our attunement to our social environment increases. Interpersonal contact may feel awkward and even painful. Sometimes we pull back, finding contact with others too painful. Other times we want to stay close to others and avoid being alone.We pay closer attention to which of our friends comfort us. We notice who offers to help or says a few kind words and who avoids us. Every spoken word has the power to disappoint us or to touch us deeply.
But, suffering often brings a peculiar kind of isolation. It can make us feel alone and different from others. Instead of feeling understood and supported by others, we might feel alienated. It can seem as if we are on the outside of life’s window, watching others carry on if is nothing has happened.
Likewise, suffering can make it seem as if God is distant and unavailable. We wonder if he is aware of our pain-filled circumstances. Then, we speculate whether our pain matters to him. Just as we might long for friends and family to soothe us during suffering, we also desire God’s empathic understanding.
There is good news! Jesus is an emotional being, and he understands what we are going through. The Bible is filled with examples of when Jesus experienced pain and suffering. The author of Hebrews tells us Jesus is able to empathize with our weaknesses and was personally tempted in every way. Despite our doubts about God’s availability during periods of pain and suffering, the truth is: God is with us, and he understands. And better yet, he is waiting for us to call out to him so that he can to rush to our side, comfort us and give us aid.
- Have you experienced a situation in which you wondered if God understood your pain?
- What about this experience caused you to question God’s compassion?
- Did you later gain a different perspective of God’s involvement?
- What changed your viewpoint?
Dear God, I am an imperfect person. Sometimes I am thrown by painful situations. Please remind me of your compassion when I face such circumstances.