“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.” Isaiah 53:3 Christian Standard Bible
“A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” Isaiah 53:3 New King James Version
“We are not acquainted with grief in the way in which Our Lord was acquainted with it; we endure it, we get through it, but we do not get intimate with it.” Oswald Chambers
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t lost someone or something, who isn’t experiencing grief in some form. As I read the Oswald Chambers quote I was struck by the simple truth it revealed. There is a difference in how we approach suffering, loss, and the collateral damage carried by those who continue in life as opposed to the way Jesus lived with damage, loss, and suffering.
Oswald Chambers’ words describe an attitude of attempting to get it over with, to put any inconvenience caused by the suffering we know behind us as quickly as possible. It is deeply illuminating. I believe it strikes a chord in me as I have sought to be strong by ignoring the pain and setting it aside rather than acknowledge its intimacy in my life lived on Planet Earth!
In our western culture the attitude towards pain and suffering is to find the quickest possible way to dull the hurt, to kill the pain at all costs, and there are billions of dollars spent each year to that end. In my own experience with chronic pain, I wanted to control that pain, and I wanted desperately to be completely pain-free. I don’t believe living pain-free is something which we can reach, unfortunately, we are led to believe a pain-free life is possible.
Honestly, I have never wanted to become intimate with loss, suffering, grief, and pain, yet I find myself having more immediate knowledge of the trio as the years pass by! I shared my current struggle with humanity’s nemesis and its impact as I face losing someone I love dearly. Somehow that wasn’t enough, because I just had news that a friend who has given selflessly in so many ways to others, who has provided me encouragement in ways they will never know, is also terminal with cancer. It is a never ending story.
But our story is a story where God steps out of His element and places Himself in our element. He chooses the suffering, loss, grief, and pain in ways we will never be able to know. Because while we experience them, He incorporated into Himself everything that was ours. Not only was He the One who destroyed the cause of our pain, suffering, and loss, Jesus became that which was the cause of our pain and suffering in order to save His most intimate creation, us. To give us the ultimate pain-free life, it was necessary He become intimate with that which was destroying those He loved.
I wonder how my life might have been different if I were able to accept the inevitable truth of pain, if I had been taught to embrace the knowledge and fact of pain as revealed in the person of Jesus. Is it possible to mitigate the impact of pain in the way it strips from us our humanity? I guess the bottom line becomes this, we experience loss, pain, bad things which happen to the just and the unjust, often allowing the unjust to go free while the just are left to suffer. It is a theme that has troubled mankind for eons, including outrage at the outright “wrongness” of the wicked flourishing while the just suffer without much hope. And so it goes as it has always gone until the moment, the twinkling of an eye when Jesus returns and then it all is finally done, the ultimate pain-free life!
Until then, we will continue to be acquainted with grief; we will also be people of sorrow. And that’s not all bad as we live in this world where people are experiencing loss nearly every day because as those also acquainted with the Man of Sorrows we have something to offer them.
One last thought, Jesus is the only one who has offered Himself to be one with the sorrow of those He created. In no other religion or belief system does the deity offer itself for those it has brought into existence. That is something to consider as we think about the One who chose to be intimate with pain and suffering rather than live without us!
“I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: ‘Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.’ The Enthroned continued, ‘Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.’” Revelation 21:3-5 The Message