"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Man of Sorrows

I see posts on facebook from time to time asking friends to use a word to describe the poster. There is sometimes even a menu of choices. I cannot remember any of them giving "sad" or "sorrowful" as options. After all, everybody knows facebook is about fun, right? And wouldn't we consider it a slam if someone said that's what they thought of us? At best, we might think they felt sorry for us. No, sorrow is not good public relations.

Isaiah either did not know that, or did not care when he prophesied about Jesus:

"He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (Isaiah 53:3)

When was the last time you saw a church named "First Church of Sorrows" or "Sad Man Sanctuary?" You have not seen them because we do not like sorrow. We are not attracted to it. To call Jesus a man of sorrows makes him sound...sad. What in the world was the Holy Spirit thinking when he gave these words to Isaiah?

Consider this: You have just come through a terrible patch in life. You are closing in on 50 and your job and marriage are on the skids. Your kids hardly acknowledge you any more, and you just can't seem to shake the feeling that life is over for you. You look in the phone book and find the name of a counselor. You make an appointment with Caring Carl and show up for your appointment. The counselor walks into the lobby and you are surprised to see that he looks to be about 25 years old. He tells you he is not married, has never had a serious relationship (or a job before this new practice). He is from a privileged background and has never wanted for anything. Oh, and he looks like Tom Cruise. What are you thinking at this point? Can this man, so unacquainted with sorrow begin to understand or empathize with you? Probably not. He may offer some sound textbook advice, but you leave his office feeling worse than when you entered.

What you need is a counselor who has had some sad days, weeks, or even years, and has overcome them. Someone with some experiences under their belt. Someone who has been in the darkness and found the switch. What you need is a man or woman acquainted with sorrow. It is this the writer of Hebrews refers to when he says that we have a compassionate high priest (Jesus) who understands our pain because he has been there.

Jesus came, the first time, to suffer and die as a sacrifice for our sins. Many today want to shy away from the so-called down side and focus on a "happy gospel" where it is all about your joy, your happiness, your blessings, your best life...YOU. The gospel of the Bible is one of suffering, a sacred sorrow that leads to repentance. The outcome is joy with its foundation firmly planted in eternity--not whether God is coming through for you the way you think he should here and now.

It may not be the best public relations. Not many people are signing up to follow Jesus into a sacred sorrow. Maybe that's why the gate that leads to salvation is narrow and few find it. We have to know we are sick before we can ask to be healed. It is the gate that leads to peace with God and eternity-based joy. Like Jesus, we long to do the (sometimes unpopular) will of the Father. The thing is, the Father really does know what's best for us.

The Man of Sorrows stands by to walk with you through your darkest valleys (and your brightest paths). There is no circumstance that will cause him to walk away from you. He will never give up on your broken life or your broken heart. Compassionate and patient, he is there for you, always, and his promise to all who trust him is to bring beauty from ashes. He is the redeemer of everything, and he is not afraid to get down in the mud and the muck to do it. He gets it; he understands you. His love never fails and, by his stripes we are healed.

... behind it, and what is the meaning behind Christ, The Man Of Sorrows