I am in awe at how God makes the world seem so much smaller, as we all walk in faith together serving such an amazing God. Thank you all for sharing your valuable advice & suggestions to help my sister, offers to pray for her, priceless bible verses, and countless personal stories of hope journeys and miraculous healings. Every story, comment and email lifted my spirits in an unbelievable way. Nothing is more encouraging than to be reminded that everyone has troubles, some worse than others, but that the same God is there to hold each of our hands, and that our hope rests in Him alone. I can hardly take it all in without getting all mushy, and I pray God blesses each of you in a special way this week. Smiles and hugs.
Now lets take another step in our journey of hope together. Yesterdays post focused on praising God during the storm, and loving Him even when life is hard. Today I want to focus on the only thing that will allow us to do that – attitude.
You know, Jesus had every reason to have a bad attitude.
In the few years that Jesus was walking the earth, He experienced more than His fair share of hardships and heartaches, to put it lightly.
He experienced every emotion imaginable including celebrations, threats, joy, intense grief, overwhelming sorrow, looming disappointments, life interruptions, ridiculous demands, daily pressures, rejection, temptation, hurt, embarrassment, betrayal and loneliness.
So when we go through really hard times, facing those huge giants that seem to be sucking the life right of our heart, it is so comforting to remember that Jesus knows how we feel.
Maybe you have come back to my blog today because you are experiencing one or many of those emotions above. Maybe you are still feeling hopeless, and desperately seeking any word from God to help you get through the situation you are facing. Maybe you feel like nobody can understand what you are going through, and no one can relate to what you are feeling. But friend, I want to remind you today, that Jesus knows how you feel.
In Max Lucados book, In The Eye Of The Storm, which is one of my most very favorite books ever, Max writes this:
When Matthew writes that Jesus had compassion on the people, he is not saying that Jesus felt casual pity for them. No, the term is far more graphic. Matthew is saying that Jesus felt their hurt in his gut:
– He felt the limp of the crippled.
– He felt the hurt of the diseased.
– He felt the loneliness of the leper.
– He felt the embarrassment of the sinful.
And once He felt their hurts, He couldnt help but heal their hurts. He was moved in the stomach by their needs. He was so touched by their needs that He forgot His own needs. He was so moved by the people’s hurts that He put His hurts on the back burner.
This paragraph above from Lucados book makes it crystal clear the immensity of compassion that Jesus has for us, but also, the immensity of His understanding.
He not only can understand how we are feeling because He walked the earth as God in human flesh, but also because His love for us causes Him to actually feel our hurts. He doesnt merely catch our every tear and desire to comfort us, He actually shares our pain, physically and emotionally.
But regardless of the disappointments and pain that Jesus suffered, in His body, and on our behalf, what we can hopefully take away from this understanding is the incredible realization that despite all of His sufferings, He never wavered in His attitude.
Jesus never got mad in sin and refused to forgive someone. Jesus never betrayed someone because they had betrayed Him. Jesus never turned away from someone in need. Jesus never gossiped about anyone behind their back. Jesus never lacked compassion. Jesus was never selfish. Jesus was never prideful. Jesus was never rebellious. Jesus was never unrighteous in his thoughts or actions. Jesus was never hurtful to others. Jesus never forgot who His Father was, even when He felt forgotten, and forsaken for a brief moment.
Jesus never looked for the bad in people or circumstances, He always looked for the good. He always turned experiences, into eternal encounters. Jesus always tried to focus on what people could learn from mistakes, not condemn because they made mistakes. Jesus never questioned Gods intentions, or purposes, even when He suffered great heartbreak and physical pain.
His attitude was not founded on the shifting sand of His earthly circumstances, His earthly surroundings or His human feelings. It was grounded on the Rock of Salvation, the Father that was bigger than anything He could encounter. The One whom He knew would always be able to come to His rescue, as was within His will.
Regardless of how people treated Jesus, the challenges He faced, the persecution He endured and the pain He suffered, Jesus’s attitude remained one of love, compassion, and optimism. He was able to look past the present, to see the future benefits. He believed to the depths of His soul what we learn about in Romans 8:28, that says everything serves a higher purpose, to glorify God, for those who are loved and called by God.
I think it is important to also keep in mind that Jesus was not a shallow optimist – He could see the good, the bad and the ugly. In fact, He lived in a shadow of a cross looming in the distance. But His faith and His attitude never wavered.
Oh, to have an eternal optimist outlook on life, an attitude of hope, and a perspective of love, like Jesus did. I can only imagine how happy our life would be if we could stay so grounded in our faith that we would never waver in our own attitudes – that we would never succumb to pessisim and anxiety – that we would never doubt eternal purpose in a heartbreaking situation.
We obviously cannot achieve this perfection of heart or mind. Just by virtue of living in a broken world, we will always be tempted to succumb to negativity and a loss of hope. But praise Jesus, we have been promised His grace when we do – the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God.
Grace to learn from our mistakes. Grace to face the battles when they come. Grace to fail and be forgiven. The grace to offer hope even when we feel hopeless and forgotten.
Its okay to feel hopeless, in fact it is perfectly normal,and maybe reality tells you that your situation even warrants it. But Gods grace is sufficient.
As we strive to believe that God knows how we feel and desires for us to have peace and abundant joy in our hearts, despite what is going on in our lives, only then can we begin to catch a glimpse of the hope that He has readily available if we seek it from Him. A level of hope that is not attainable from worldy people or things. A hope that is unseen, that is against all odds, because we believe in His sovereignty.
Its kind of funny if you think about it, to consider that our attitude/outlook in general, could be the determining factor in our level of hope. Our faith obviously drives our hope, but our attitude will drive our faith.
Friends, seek out Gods grace today to find hope. Remember that Jesus not only knows and understands how you feel, but that His grace will rain down upon you, if you lift up your hands and welcome the rain.
2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.