I’ve struggled with anxiety over the years.
Sometimes it gets pretty rough. It keeps me from falling asleep at night and wakes me up in the dark hours of the night. Sometimes it feels like a large animal is sitting on my chest, squeezing the breath out of me. It’s a miserable experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
When I see someone else experiencing anxiety I feel compassion for them. I know the misery they are experiencing and my heart goes out to them. I extend them more grace than I normally would because I know how difficult it is to operate in the midst of anxiety. I want to help them and pray for them and let them know that I care about them.
But realistically, there’s not much I can do to help. I can pray and that’s about it. I’ve suffered like they have but I don’t have the power to help them in the midst of their suffering. I’m limited.
Not so with Jesus.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18 ESV)
Jesus suffered like no one else. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He felt the loneliness of being abandoned by his family and the utter grief of being abandoned by the Father. He had a real human body that was racked with pain and sickness. He had a real back that was destroyed by a Roman whip and a real head that was punctured by massive thorns.
He was tempted in every way that we are. Jesus took on a full frontal assault from Satan, enduring the worst that Satan could throw at him. Jesus knew temptation in a way that we never will.
Jesus suffered alright. He suffered and was tempted.
Because Jesus suffered and was tempted, He is perfectly suited to help us in our temptations. The one who endured excruciating pain can sustain us in the midst of our pain. The one who was haunted by loneliness can comfort us in our loneliness. The one who was mocked and abused by others can strengthen us when we are mocked an abused.
Jesus is not like a football coach who looks upon our sufferings and says, “Suck it up!” Jesus looks on our sufferings and says, “I’ve been through that. I know what that’s like. Let me help you.” Jesus, the almighty, reigning son of God, is waiting to help us.
Are you running to Jesus in the midst of temptation and suffering? To do anything else is crazy. Jesus is full of tender mercy toward us and wants to help us in every trial and temptation.
Note: This is excerpted from a sermon I preached on Hebrews 2:10-18. You can listen to it here.