We think we are obligated to so many things. Things that are not required of us or even asked of us by God. We think we must be actively part of a small group. We think must pour into friendships that never deepen beyond the surface despite our sincerest efforts. I have to exercise for an hour a day. I have to read two books this weeks. I have to bring an appetizer to small group. I have to babysit Tiffany’s kids. I have to return that phone call by tonight or it’s considered rude.
“I have to” and “I must” and “what will people think if I don’t” often dictate the course of our day more than what God asks of us. God wants our best; He wants the best for us. But he also sent Jesus to the earth in the form of a human not simply to shed his blood for the covering of our sins. Have you ever thought about it? Why as a man? Why did he have to die in a physical form? Why did he have to live on earth for over thirty years? God wanted to know what it is like to endure human trials. God never experienced sinful humanity, but to be surrounded by sin, the cares of life and every temptation was his daily experience for more than 30 years. Since the dawn of time and until the end of the ages, He will continue to see the large, small, or seemingly minute things that make our souls feel like hiding away. He knows. He knows.
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted. Hebrews 2:18
If you are suffering, Jesus has been in your place of suffering. His name was marred by friends. He noticed passive-aggressive slights that don’t feel like they should determine an emotional state for the rest of the day but often do. He knows what it is to feel overwhelmed from being over-worked, lonely from not being understood, confused for experiencing emotions so strong that we are forced to acknowledge our humanity while knowing the spirit realm is more important; these are not sins, but struggles the son of God knows. He knows. He knows.
Whether we know the truth that we need rest intimately or freshly, we are sometimes hesitant to seek that rest. Other Christians have declared that rest is weak. “Needing to cry or retreat for a while is unnecessary when we know the joy of the Lord is our strength. Stop feeling sorry for yourself; He’s with you,” they say. That’s true; He is. But over and over again in Scripture, God continues to beckon us to Him, seeking us because He knows we need a God who is not only a powerful provider, but a tender counselor. A God with both masculine and feminine attributes that allow Him to nurture us in all the best ways. Jesus promised in John 10 that nothing could snatch us out of His hand. Nothing. Your spiral of shame will not snatch you out of His hand. Your cycle of sin will not snatch you out of His hand. Your doubt of His goodness will not snatch you of His hand. You are in His palm already, protected.
There is a time for everything. The wisest man in the Bible reminded us that there is a time even for weeping, mourning, and the gnashing of teeth. All within the same sacred text, it is also written, “Weep with those who weep, and mourn with those who mourn.” If our Father was only concerned with our appearance of spiritual maturity, He would not tolerate our moments, days, and years of feeling like we need to stop and restore. Sometimes we need to acknowledge our sadness or anxiety. The Son of God felt so anxious He sweat drops of blood. Most of us probably have not come close to experiencing an anxiety so intense as that, and yet we think we are sinning and ought to feel ashamed for feeling as if we just can’t do it. But God himself has been there; He is waiting for you to cast your cares on Him so He can say, “I know. I know.”
God feels your exhaustion. He mourns for your rest. To continue acting as if everything is okay and you are thriving under His joy when you know that your soul aches and your heart races is a prideful rejection of His rest. The more we pretend we are not human but solely spiritual with the biblical knowledge needed to trudge through everything, the more we distance ourselves from our own Father. He grieves for your pain before you know it’s there. He leaves the ninety-nine to find us when we stray, but we still reject the goodness of leaning on Him. We suppress our own emotions and continue attending every obligation, waiting to feel renewed. Years of legalistic training and immersion into church life have conditioned us to believe that being human equates sin. When we recall that God not only knows your heart, but fully identifies with the pain you feel, we remember there is no better or wiser King to run and cry out to. He knows. He knows.
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1
Abram believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness. – Genesis 15: 6
But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines ever brighter until the full day. – Proverbs 4:18
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