Monday, May 4, 2015

Come, Weary Saints

Dear friend, are you tired? Has your pain, suffering, trial or temptation made you weary? Have you been betrayed by those you trusted? Is your heart broken from grief, to the point that you think it may stop beating at any moment? Are you so exhausted from just making it through the day that you have no energy left at the end of it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then I’d like to invite you to come away with me for a few moments, as I share with you our Lord’s solution to this weariness: Christ Himself. 

As we think on Christ, we must first think of how He suffered. He was a Man of Sorrows, acquainted with grief, who was stricken, smitten of God, afflicted, and pierced through for our sins (Isaiah 55:3-12). He was betrayed by those who claimed to be His friends (Psalm 55:12-14). He was left all alone in His hour of greatest need (Matt 26:56). He was mocked, spat upon and scourged (Mark 10:33-34). His soul was deeply troubled, to the point that He asked God to excuse Him from the very thing He had come to do (John 12:27; Luke 22:42). There are so many examples in God’s Word of Christ’s suffering, that I could fill many blog posts just marveling at what He endured for me and you.

But that is not my purpose today. The reason I am writing this today is because I want you to know that Jesus understands your pain, your suffering, and your fleshly response. He suffered more than you or I or any other person ever has or will suffer, yet did not sin (Heb 4:15). Not only was he beaten, betrayed, and abandoned by people, but even God turned His face away from Christ as He bore our sins. This is the suffering that exceeds all other suffering.  I’m not sure exactly what Christ experienced in His relationship with God in those moments when He cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:46)?” But I do know that He was experiencing some kind of separation from His Father. God hates sin, and sin always separates us from the Father. Imagine bearing the sin of the whole world! How far He must have felt God was from Him in that moment!

Dear reader, I want you to know that this is a pain you will never have to experience if you have received God’s gracious offer of forgiveness for your sin. If you have confessed your sin to God, and repented (turned from) that sin, receiving His forgiveness and offering up your life to Him, nothing can ever separate you from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Jesus suffered physical pain, abandonment, grief, and finally, separation from God. Then, he died so that we would have this great gift of Grace, never to be forsaken by God.

But there’s more! Death did not have victory over Christ. He rose again after he suffered that bloody, horrific death. (Read 1 Corinthians 15. The apostle Paul does a much better job of explaining this than I can.) The point is, Christ has conquered sin and death! Though our physical bodies will break down and we will die, our souls have eternal life! This is our comfort in our affliction. Not only does our Great High Priest understand our weakness, but He lived it! He, too became weary and beaten down. He was tired and lonely.

How did He get through it? He went away by himself and prayed:

Mark 1:35: Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Matthew 14:23: After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

These are just a couple of examples that are written for us. I’m sure there were many other times when Jesus went off alone to be with His Father. God strengthened Him through that prayer. God Himself was Christ’s sustenance. When we are lonely, in pain, tired, weary, betrayed, afraid, or uncertain, we need to get alone with our Father so that we too can be comforted, encouraged, and strengthened.

When you are in a moment of crisis, seemingly unbearable pain, grief, or despair, remember our Lord and His weakness, His pain, His need. He was a person just like us, who was tempted and tried, yet without sin. He conquered sin so that we would not be ruled by it. You, my believing friend, are not under the rule of your fleshly bent toward self-pity, fear, anxiety, and hopelessness. You are under the rule of a great High Priest who has already freed you from the power of sin and death. So, I would encourage you, in those moments, to pray the prayer He prayed as He faced His darkest hour on earth:

Luke 22:41-44: He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."

This is the prayer of the weary, in a nutshell:

Father: I agree that you are my supreme authority, and have complete authority to run my life.

If you are willing: It is your will that is most important to me, and that I want more than anything.

Take this cup from me: Don't make me go through this, please!

Yet not my will, but Yours be done: I want what I want, but not more than I want Your will and glory.

Once you have prayed, rest. God knows your needs, He is sovereign over your trial, and He loves you. Let these truths become the living water that saturates your dry, weary soul. 

Come, weary saints, though tired and weak
Hide away in the love of Jesus.
Your strength will return by His quiet streams
Hide away in the love of Jesus.                                                                     
© 2008 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (ASCAP)/Sovereign Grace Worship (ASCAP).