Have you ever found yourself thinking, “No one knows, no one cares, no one really understands, no one appreciates…”?
Or, “I feel so alone. Is there is anyone who really ‘gets’ me?”
Each of us longs to be known and understood.
Often when our longing isn’t met, we begin to blame others. We might blame a friend because she doesn’t respond in the way I need her to, a husband because he just doesn’t understand, a boss who doesn’t appreciate me, parents or in-laws who don’t know how hard “it” (whatever the issue of the moment) is for me.
It’s helpful to ask, “Am I looking to the wrong people in the wrong places to meet my needs?”
I’ve learned over the years that when I find myself in these situations, I should look to Christ first.
Where in His life did He experience what I am experiencing? Is it possible that He might know exactly how I am feeling? That he might understand my raw emotions?
Two passages in the Bible have had a radical impact on my life. They have enabled me to consider my issues from the perspective of Jesus.
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:17-18)
“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confessions. 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 4:14-16)
What does this mean and how can this work out in my everyday life?
Simply put, it means that anything I am feeling or experiencing, Jesus himself has already felt, but without sin. He understands my challenge in a way that no other human being can.
Here are some examples:
The agony of a difficult decision.
Perhaps you are facing a difficult decision. All day long it is on your mind. Its weight is heavy, tiresome, and frightening. Clarity seems illusive. You feel scared and lonely. In the moment it’s easy to think, “No one knows how I feel; no one understands the agony in my heart.”
But there is one who does.
Picture Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. (Mathew 16) Utterly alone. He asked His Father three times if there was any way the cup (the crucifixion) could be taken away from Him. Imagine Him wrestling with this decision. Could He go through with it? Was there no other way? It must have been agony.
The heartache of betrayal.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? A friend, with whom you shared deep secrets in confidence, has told someone else. A colleague you have trusted has taken advantage of you. A spouse has walked out on you. A child has turned against you. Shocked, angry, and deeply wounded, your heart has been pierced. How will you ever trust again?
“Surely no one can understand how deeply this hurt has penetrated–how utterly devastated I am.”
But Jesus does.
Remember His disciple, Peter, the one he called the rock on whom He was going to build His church? When things got difficult Peter denied three times that he even knew Jesus let alone was one of his dearest friends.
How do you think Jesus felt?
And then in the garden (Matthew 26) Jesus asked His three best friends, Peter, James and John to be with Him, to stay with Him, to pray with Him. And they fell asleep. They let Him down. Betrayal and loneliness must have been crushing to Jesus as a man.
The challenge of singleness.
I have many single friends of varying ages. Some are single again and some have never married. Many are enjoying their singleness and understand it is a calling, even a gift. (1 Corinthians 7:7, Matthew 19:11). One of our heroes in the faith, John Stott, remained single for 90 years.
Others admit that at different times they have struggled with their singleness. It can be lonely and when we focus so much on marriage and family it is easy to feel left out, less than, even undesired.
It’s easy to wonder, “Does anyone really understand how I feel?”
Yes, Jesus does. He too was single. And he was single in a culture and time when the expectation was to marry. People probably considered him weird. His family may have wondered what was “wrong” with him. He was often lonely.
The trial of temptation.
We are all tempted over and over again, in all sorts of ways. It’s exhausting–emotionally, spiritually, and even physically. From alcohol, to anger, to drugs, to pornography, materialism, envy, bitterness, etc. It’s endless.
Who can understand this agony?
He endured 40 straight days of being tempted. Yes, he knows how utterly miserable it is to go through a season of temptation. Yet in every temptation He stood fast.
We can also assume He was tempted sexually. This may horrify you but if He was tempted in every way that we have been yet without sin, that includes all sexual temptations–those towards the opposite sex or the same sex. . He understands the agony of every temptation–to satisfy sexual desires, to give into the power of addictions, etc. He resisted. He chose celibacy (sexual purity). He chose God’s will over Satan’s enticements.
The apostle Paul offers us encouragement: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)
The pain of failing as a parent.
If you are a parent with young children you have already experienced failure. You wonder, “Have I ruined my child for life?” Your child may have run away, cut off his relationship with you, gotten into drugs, committed a crime. The ache of your loss and your feelings of guilt as a parent scream condemnation and explode with heartache.
Who can understand your wounds?
Although he had no biological children His disciples in a way were His “kids.” He spent three years teaching, training, and above all loving them. Yet they still displayed sibling rivalry. They argued about who was the greatest among them. Judas betrayed Him. He was the ultimate prodigal.
Jesus, the perfect “parent,” the only one without sin, understands your pain.
(And remember, your ability to ruin your child is not nearly as great as His power to redeem your child. Check out Encouragement for a Guilt-Ridden Mother for more.)
There are many more ways we can find understanding and receive comfort for whatever we are going through when we look to the life of Jesus.
What issue is causing you angst at this moment?
What feelings are you struggling with? Ask God to lead you to a time in His Son’s life when He experienced the same feelings. He is the only one who truly understands how you feel. He is the one who can provide supernatural comfort. The writer of the Hebrews reminds us,
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 4:16, emphasis mine)
Want more? I explore this topic further in chapter seven of my book, Risky Faith.