Jesus Joins Us in Our Suffering

god's presence retreat suffering Aug 23, 2023

Blog by Alan Fadling

In early 2016, when Gem and I launched Unhurried Living, I spent a few days on retreat with a small group of Christian leaders. We met at a little Episcopal retreat house called St. Columba’s in Inverness, CA. It overlooks Tomales Bay on the Pacific Coast just north of San Francisco. I’m grateful for holy places like this where we can rest, reflect, and pray.


While I was there, I read these lines from the letter to the Hebrews:

Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested. (Hebrews 2:17-18 NRSV)


Jesus identified with our human experience. He entered fully into our enfleshed reality with all its gifts and challenges, strengths, and weaknesses. He experienced temptation. He felt pain. He encountered emotional loss. He understands what we face and can help us not only from the reality of divine omniscience but also from the wisdom of lived experience.


Jesus became like us, his sisters and brothers. He experienced the testing of suffering in his own body just like we do. When we think about Jesus’ perspective on our hardships, we can imagine him viewing them from his experience of the cross. He is not untouched by our pain.


Jesus embodies trustworthy mercy and empathy for us. His sufferings tested him, and that enables us to believe that in him we can find whatever help we need in our trying times.


He is present to us right now in whatever causes us to suffer or struggle. He is a beautifully merciful and faithful high priest, always bringing us into the presence of his Father. He knows how to give us the help we need. Isn’t that remarkable news?


For Reflection 

  • What vision of God lies in the back of your mind when you are suffering?
  • Are you tempted to imagine him as distant, or can you envision Jesus seeing your struggle from the perspective of his own suffering?
  • How do you want to bring your needs into his presence?



Photo by Federico Burgalassi on Unsplash