It would be hard to walk this road of chronic pain if I did not feel that anyone understood. And, in my current circle of friends and family there aren't many who can. Not to say that they don't sympathize or don't care, because they do. But, there is nothing like having someone around who just "gets" it.
Someone who knows that you cannot clean the shower or do the dishes or fold laundry today because of the shooting pain in your shoulders that will only get worse.
Someone who excuses you for not buying clothing that needs to be ironed (and the growing pile of wrinkled clothes you do own) because ironing is way too taxing.
Someone who overlooks your weight gain because, though it may be necessary and may help you feel better momentarily, exercise just aggravates the knots in your back, causing you to feel the effects for days afterward.
Someone who understands why you say "no" to social gatherings and service/ministry opportunities because you are simply exhausted.
Someone who knows how hard you try not to complain because you know it could be worse, so you keep a lot of your feelings bottled up.
Someone who shares in your sufferings. Someone who can put themselves in your shoes. Someone who knows how you feel.
In my life, that Someone is Jesus Christ. Holy God put on skin and came down to share in the sufferings of every man, woman, and child He had created.
Beaten. Crushed. Wounded. Pierced.
Stripped of His dignity, He bore the weight of all our pain, sorrow, and sin. He took on immense agony in order to know us. To bring down the wall that had separated us from God for so long. To give us a way to know Him.
In human flesh, God not only took on the worst physical pain any of us could imagine. He experienced emotional and spiritual torment as well.
When Jesus got word that one of his closest friends, Lazarus had died, He wept. Scripture also says in John 11 that "He was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled", when He saw Mary and the other Jews with her crying over the death of Lazarus. Jesus knew the heartache of losing someone He loved.
The night Jesus was arrested, He took Peter, James, and John up to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with Him. Jesus was in distress over His coming crucifixion. Though He was prepared to do His Father's will, He begged God to take this burden from Him. And while He earnestly prayed, His disciples fell asleep, ignoring His pleas to petition the Father on His behalf. Soon after this, Judas came to betray Him with a kiss. Jesus knew agony of being obedient to God to the point of death. He knew the pain of watching His friends turn their backs on Him.
On the cross, Jesus experienced the guilt, shame, and torture of all our sins, along with the physical pain of dying such a horrible death. But, I imagine the most difficult thing He did that day was enduring the silence of His Father, Who had to look away from His Son as He bore our sins. Before His final breath, Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (Matthew 27:46). He knew the pain of separation from God.
Oppressed. Abandoned. Full of sorrow. Betrayed.
Have you experienced any of these emotions? Do you feel brokenhearted and alone? Does your physical suffering make you feel isolated?
Dear friend, you may think that no one understands. But, Jesus knows you. He knows how you've hurt. He's cried tears with you as you've suffered. He's been there with you in the darkest nights. He loves you and He willingly put Himself on a cross so that you could know and love Him, too. His shoulders can take the burden of your pain, if you'll only cling to Him.
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers... Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by his death He might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels He helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." ~ Hebrews 2:9-11; 14-18 (emphasis mine)