He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed (Isaiah 53:3-5).
"Life is hard, then you die!"
Kind of a grim way to live, isn't it? But that's where a lot of folks live without Jesus. Unfortunately, that's also where a lot of folks who claim to know Jesus seem to live as well.
Life can be hard. We don't have much choice about whether or not we are going to face some pretty stiff challenges. We all have mortal bodies, fallible friends, and our inherent personal selfishness that sinks many of our relationships.
So, what are we going to do? Are we going to "turtle" hiding and holding all our vulnerabilities close and not sharing our real selves with others? Are we going to keep playing church, spouting all of our modern Christian trite-isms while denying our hurts trying to live guarded lives because our wounds are all too painfully real to our hearts and souls?
Jesus looked at the reality of this world's harshness ahead of him as he faced the cross. Instead of withdrawing, he shared some words of assurance for his confused, and about to be emotionally flattened, disciples:
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
But, what does this mean? What is this peace? What is this overcoming Jesus promises us? How do we grab hold of this truth and internalize it? When people let us down, abandoning and grievously wounding us, how do we trust Jesus for his peace and his presence through it all?
We remember that"by his wounds we are healed"!
Jesus lived here as one of us. He willingly faced rejection, abandonment, ridicule, torture, humiliation, and murder at the hands of those he had blessed and came to save. He's experienced our worst hurts, personally. More than knowing everything because he is God, Jesus knows how it feels to be one of us. He knows our experience as a mortal clothed with human flesh and full of human emotions. He even expressed the agony of feeling abandoned by God: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34). And, the Holy Spirit said, he did it so he could be here with us, always, to help us:
Therefore, it was necessary for [Jesus] 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 (Hebrews 2:17-18 NLT).
But, when you've been hurt and abandoned and humiliated and wounded by those who should love you, how do you trust that Jesus is not going to forsake you, too?
We can give up our pain and mistrust to the proven faithfulness behind Jesus' promise. We can choose to trust the one who knows us and has shown us that he'd go the full route of agony to demonstrate that he loves us for always and forever. He faced it all and died trusting God would not abandon him in his rejection by others (John 16:33; John 8:29) and in his death (Acts 2:27, 31-32). His resurrection proves his constancy and faithfulness just as his death proves his love! He won't let us go when we are his:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
We must know, this:
As our anthem of assurance, let's use the words and video of the Switchfoot and Lauren Daigle song, "I Won't Let You Go." As we hear these lyrics, let's listen for the voice of the Spirit reminding us that there is no place Jesus hasn't already gone to be with us and bring us home to our Father, forever (John 14:1-3).
If you can't see the YouTube video, try here: "I Won't Let You Go!"