The writer of Hebrews says that we should consider Jesus. We should think and meditate on Jesus. Specifically, we should spend some time thinking about Jesus and his passion—when he faced the biggest challenges of his life. We should consider Jesus on the cross. We should consider the events that put Jesus on the cross.
We are tempted to believe that doing so would make us depressed—I mean, Jesus gets betrayed by a close friend, left by all his friends in his time of need, tried unfairly and then nailed to a cross. It doesn’t sound encouraging, but mysteriously, this story is a reservoir of encouragement and grace.
For starters, it get us to put our attention back on Jesus. Looking after our own life and our own well being is draining because we are containers, not fountains. Jesus is a fountain, and everything about him is oozing life, even the hard parts of his journey. We were made to be filled with the fullness of God, which will never happen when we are only looking at our current circumstances—it’s a negative feedback loop. It will not fill, satisfy or restore.
Secondly, we are not alone in all our challenges. We are in good company. Hardship is one of the currents of God’s kingdom. Now let me say that hardship isn’t a part of God’s ultimate plan. He did not design us with the intent of punishment and tears. He gets no pleasure out of our pain. But because life is complicated, and because our choices matter, pain is a part of the process—a part that we do not endure alone! We do not have a God who inflicts pain, we have a God who absorbs pain and recycles it! We do not have a God who sits in an ivory tower, we have a God who has come down into the dirt and the hurt and felt it all. We have a brother.
Finally, it’s possible to go through life, the joy and the pain, without becoming weary, without losing heart. And I’m not talking about becoming numb or an isolated avoider. Some of us see the clouds of trouble piling up on the horizon and turn around and move in another direction. That will never work. In fact, I’m convinced that most of our weariness comes from trying so hard to find a way around rather than going through. We don’t have to be unfeeling zombies. We don’t have to run twice the distance to avoid difficulty. There is grace in the Son of God to go through! There is grace in the story of Jesus that can bring energy to our dead hearts. There is grace flowing from the savior’s veins that can fill all our empty spaces and give us life!