I’m planning a trip to England. I will be crossing the pond in May to visit my best friend and see some sights. I’ve been once before in summer 2013, and while that trip was a riot, I’m more excited for this return trip.
Why? Because I’ve experienced London already. I know what it’s like to ride the tube and to look the “wrong” direction for oncoming traffic. I know that the first floor of the British Museum is really all that’s there worth seeing and that the Museum of London is better overall. A lot of the peculiar little quirks of British culture won’t be such a shock this time around.
But what’s interesting is explaining it to my dad, who is coming with me. You can’t really explain London or any of the surrounding areas until you’ve actually been there. It’s one thing to talk about it. It’s something else to visit. That’s what I learned the last time I was there. It was something my best friend could describe, but I couldn’t really understand it until I’d lived it.
Today’s verses are Hebrews 2:17-18.
Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Life is hard sometimes. Everybody knows that. But there’s something really comforting in talking to someone who’s walked a mile in your shoes.
If you’ve lost someone you love, friends can tell you they understand, but they don’t really. If they haven’t experienced the same loss you have, they can’t. It’s like someone with a full-time, paying job with benefits trying to console a part-time, minimum wage earner that rising grocery costs are a part of life. They mean well, certainly, but they can’t actually comprehend the terror of an empty cupboard and a failing bank balance.
Having a friend in your life who has been where you’ve been, who’s walked where you walked and felt the same hurt you have is priceless. If you can talk about how you’re feeling and your friend truly does understand the same emotions, there’s comfort you can’t really quantify. Especially if that friend experienced the same hurts you have and they’ve come out shining on the other side. You walk away from the conversation with hope. If they survived, so might I.
You realize that Jesus went through the same struggles we have, right? Maybe not specifically. I mean, there’s no evidence in Scripture that Jesus was ever laid off, but He most certainly struggled to make a living. He wasn’t a property owner, and He wasn’t always sure where His next meal would come from. Maybe the circumstances in His life are different from yours, but I guarantee He experienced the same emotions you have.
That’s why He came. Jesus chose to become human so that He could be made like us in every way, suffer in every way, struggle in every way, so He could understand. So that He could bridge the chasm between us and God the Father.
When someone knows what you’ve been through, they can speak for you. They can explain how it feels to stand where you stand, to live how you live, what the world looks like from your eyes. They can speak to it because they’ve lived it too, and that’s what Jesus does for us.
Jesus experienced fear and loss. He knew what betrayal felt like. He knew what failure felt like. He knew what it was like to lose friends and family–and to have friends and family turn their backs on Him. Everything we struggle with on a daily basis, Jesus experienced Himself. Maybe the circumstances weren’t identical, but the emotions were.
And you know what? He came out shining on the other side. He lived through all of that pain and abandonment and hurt and frustration and didn’t once turn against God. He still lived a life that was pleasing to the Lord, and because He did it, so can we. And when we struggle, we can turn to Him and ask for help.
When you’re on the edge of making a really stupid decision, ask Jesus for help. Tell Him about what you’re going through. He’s listening, and He’s been there. He had the strength not to go down the road to stupid, regardless of how much He was hurting, and He’s still there to help us make the wise choice too.
Jesus experienced life before we did, and He survived. He actually did more than survive. He thrived. And we can too. We just have to be willing to talk to Him about it and ask Him for help.