For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. | Hebrews 4.15-16
Life is not easy, but as we talked about this Sunday: it isn’t supposed to be. God allowed the suffering of life so that we would not get too comfortable with life apart from Him. Sin naturally separates us from God, but suffering is a tool He uses to bring us back. He brings us back by giving us access, giving us hope, and giving us permission. Permission for what? To bring our mess in front of a holy God. His invitation means that we can come to Him with all of our suffering, regardless of if we think it is worth His time. The fact that it ails us means that it concerns Him. We are His children, as such, we should come to our Father, not once we have figured it out, but so that He can hold us in the midst of it. In order to do this, we must:
BRING THEM HONESTLY | We can bring our burdens to Him in all of our emotional slobbishness. We are a mess of thoughts, worries, frustration, and confusion; that is exactly how we should come to God. We don’t need to downplay our ridiculousness; He knows. The fact that He loves us anyway gives us permission to come before Him as we are.
More than just permission, the Bible teaches us to approach God in this desperate way. The book of Psalms is filled with ‘the man after God’s own heart’ sounding like an angst filled teenager. This is on purpose; if we are honest, that angst exists in all of us. In her article My God, My God, Why? Stacey Gleddiesmith points to this angst as a hopeful cry:
Biblical lament, then, is an honest cry to a God who is powerful, good, and just—a cry that this situation is not in alignment with God’s person or purposes. It’s a cry that expects an answer from God, and therefore results in hope, trust, and joy rather than despair.
We can’t have hope to be released from our suffering if we aren’t honest with what it is. God wants us to honestly engage our struggle and to honestly express it to Him.
BRING THEM REGULARLY | We do not suffer occasionally; we are always in a state of fighting against disillusionment, frustration, and pain. For this reason, we should bring them to God all of the time. Pray without ceasing, is the way the Apostle Paul puts it. This isn’t so that we can shift God into high gear or move Him to action. This is so that we can see what He is doing. This is so that we can be reminded regularly that we have a God who cares, who can help, and who is calling us to Him. We should come to Him regularly so that we develop trust that He is always there.
BRING THEM TO HIM | This may seem like a no-brainer, but the reality is, we often try to clean ourselves up before we come to God. We attempt to work through our problems on our own so that we can present God with a better version of who we are. Who are we kidding? God knows our worst and loves us in spite of who we are. The best we can bring to Him is our problems, so we may as well do it in the knowledge of their ineffectiveness.
Our struggle is meant to show us that we need for relief and to reveal to us our inability to make it happen. These should press us toward our Savior and into the comforting assurance that relief is coming. He not only can do something, He will. We get to be part of it.