The Price of Identifying (repost from Joni Eareckson Tada)

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity. —Hebrews 2:14

When we are hurting, if there is one thing that eases our pain or grief, it is this: We want someone to understand. We want somebody to really identify with us, to have some idea of what we’re enduring.

It is certainly like that for me. I hate feeling alone and alienated in those dark times when my paralysis seems overwhelming. On my really rough days, it helps to remember what the Bible tells us about Jesus identifying with us in our sufferings. It says that He was tested and tried in every way like us. That helps! When it comes to suffering, the Lord Jesus has gone ahead of us, and has intimate, experiential, first-hand knowledge of the pain, the weight, the frustration, and the struggle. He appreciates. He understands. He connects.

But it works both ways! Not only does Christ identify with us in our suffering, we identify with Him in His suffering. He identifies with us, and we identify with Him. He appreciates all that it means to be human, and we appreciate all that His divine grace supplies. Through suffering, He participates in our humanity; through suffering, we participate in His divinity.

So why do we struggle so to escape our suffering? Why do we look so desperately for release? I suppose this is why I’m not earnestly seeking to be healed and raised up out of this wheelchair. I see this trial of mine as a window into the heart of Jesus. Suffering is a connecting point between my Savior and me. And when I see His great love on the cross, it gives me courage to take up my cross and follow Him.

Do you want someone to understand what you are going through today? Turn to Jesus. When you do, you will better understand what He has gone through for you.

Lord Jesus, sometimes in my grief or suffering I just want to run away and hide. Help me, Savior, to run away to you, and to hide in you.

Joni and FriendsTaken from Pearls of Great Price.  Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.  Used by permission.  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

Familiarity

The following is from Pearls of Great Price. Copyright © 2006 by Joni Eareckson Tada.

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FAMILIARITY

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. —Deuteronomy 6:5-6

When Tim, an elder at our church, moved into his home in the Santa Monica Mountains five years ago, he was awestruck by an enormous rock formation that was set back from the main highway. The rock citadel towered majestically over the waters of a sparkling lake. “That first year I nearly ran myself off the road and into that lake half a dozen times, rubbernecking to get every view possible of its grandeur, at every time of day, in every different kind of light,” Tim said, “the sun illuminated its dramatic cracks and crevices in so many diverse and magnificent ways. If that rock were in the middle of Kansas, it would draw a million visitors every year!” A few months ago he was driving a visitor from the airport to his home. They came around a corner and his guest exclaimed, “Look at that Rock!” to which Tim replied “What rock? Oh, that rock!”

The next week in church, Tim blushed as he told us about the incident. “It reminded me of the ‘sin of familiarity’ – a sin which only those who have seen and loved the grandeur of our Rock of our Salvation, Jesus Christ, can commit.”

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My elder-friend went on to say that familiarity with Christ keeps us from enjoying true intimacy with the Lord. We listen to Christian talk radio, thinking it suffices for our daily devotions. Or we reach for an article on the latest theological controversy, and fail to reach for the Word of God itself. Ask the Lord to give you a new sense of his presence and a fresh touch of his Spirit. Renew your commitment to love him with your whole heart, soul and strength.

Lord Jesus, you are my Rock and Fortress. You tower over every thing in my life. Forgive me when I take for granted your grace and strength in my life, and may I never, ever allow your death and resurrection to become ‘familiar.’

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Thank you, Joni, for your wonderful words of wisdom!