Let me say, I wanted to write this post tonight as an encouraging reminder to my brothers and sisters in the faith.
I woke up extremely tired this morning, knowing that I had a lot of errands to run with my girls. I figured that the day would be busy, so I needed to spend some time in the Word and pray before I got going, but the struggle was real! I was reading through David McWilliams’ commentary on Hebrews, and I had to keep re-reading paragraphs, trying to get my mind to think and consider what was being said. And with both of my girls awake, the last paragraph I read (on Hebrews 4:14-16) said this:
So our great high priest has “an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with them in all the dangers and sorrows and trials which come their way in life, because He Himself, by virtue of His likeness to them, was exposed to all these experience.” Not only was the Lord Jesus exposed to these temptations, he was triumphant. Never once did his faith weaken; never once did he disobey his Father. As difficult as all of this is for us to understand, to paraphrase Westcott, sympathy with the sinner does not depend upon the experience of sin, but on the strength of the temptation overcome. Let us put stress on this point in our understanding.
I went ahead with my morning of getting the girls together and out the door, but it was a hard day! I had my 5 year old having a tantrum over clothes, a completely flat tire on my car, the frustrations of changing the tire myself, waiting for 2 hours with kids to get a new tire, racing home for naps, running back out in rush hour for groceries, and on and on. It was a really hard day.
And when I have days like these, I am STRESSED OUT!!!! My attitude is horrible. I’m irritable, harsh, unkind, impatient, self-centered, prideful…..a whole list of stuff that does not line up with the fruit of the Spirit. But today was different.
With every difficulty I faced, I kept thinking about the temptation to turn back (I wrote on that in my last blog) and falling into my usual “I’m completely stressed out sins”, but I also thought about that quote above. I kept praying,
“Lord, I know you probably didn’t deal with this exact problem, but I know that you had strength to overcome…strength, that I don’t have right now. Lord, please grant me that same strength that you had to overcome for this temptation right now. Please Lord.”
And as I mentioned, the day just got harder and harder and harder. But I kept praying and praying and praying. And bless the Lord; He answered my prayers every time! He provided ways of escape. He brought His Word to mind. He brought encouraging hymns to mind. He sent encouraging people that I didn’t even know my way. And most of all, He impressed this truth in my heart: I overcome by the exact same strength that Christ had at His disposal when He was tested, and that strength is always available to me and effective because of the victory Christ won and His mediatorial role as our sympathetic great high priest interceding for me right now.
And I got to ponder over that truth while sitting in traffic this evening and eating dinner tonight. It is extremely humbling to realize that we have access to the same power, the very same grace Christ received to overcome ALL of His temptations. All of them! The exact same strength! The exact same grace! And it is just as effective for me right now in each and every temptation as it was for Him in the wilderness, in the garden, and in every point in between!
How amazing is that? How blessed is that? Can you believe the access we have to such rich spiritual blessings?
And then, I also thought about that quote in relation to how the Lord often works in the fellowship of believers. We are called to encourage one another often….actually daily. And yet, all too easily we are dismissive when people try to encourage us. We think that our problems are so unique that people have to literally walk a mile in our shoes to be able to offer us real encouragement or even a rebuke. Unless people have gone through something similar, it’s silly to think that they could actually encourage us in some real way or tell us something that would be beneficial for our lives. My husband plainly said it, “It’s just pride.”
But the reality is that God uses the fellowship of believers to give us grace in this life. It is one of His “ordinary means of grace.” And He uses our brothers and sisters around us to encourage, comfort, rebuke, and exhort us to keep our eyes on Christ and off of ourselves. They share the Word with us and how they have come to understand it more clearly. And they share their testimonies with us so that we realize it is always the same power, the same grace, the same strength that is working in each and every one of us when we face our trials.
I’ll just say this: There is no special “young mothers” grace. There is no special “teenage mothers” grace. There is no special grace for having a disability or illness. There is no special grace for being poor or rich. There is no special grace for being a woman versus being a man. There is no special grace for being Black or being White or any other ethnicity or color. We’re just not that special!
But, what we do have is special. We have the same power, the same strength, and the same grace that was working in the life of Christ while He walked this earth available to us now for anything that we are presently facing or will eventually face. And we can confidently come before God and ask Him for that strength and grace when we are facing temptations and trials. And we can also have the confidence that that grace will be sufficient and effective in our lives as we overcome.
It’s just so amazing and humbling to think about it. We have and receive the exact same thing that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ received, and thus, we overcome in and through Him to the praise of His glorious grace. I pray that the Lord helps me to never forget this, and I pray that I am mindful of this when I am being encouraged in the midst of difficult times.
May our eyes look ever to Him who is the author and perfecter of our faith!