Sidney Herald religion column published May 5, 2013
One of my vain ideas was to reach 60 without being an inpatient of a hospital. Didn’t work. Two Januaries in a row, I was hospitalized. I was a suffering puppy, though still nothing like many around me. My condition meant many trips to Billings this past year for surgeries.
It’s amazing how nurses and doctors, besides providing medical treatment, comfort their patients. As great as they are, I hope none of them will take offense when I say, they can’t hold a candle to Marilyn, my wife. She is my companion in suffering. She goes with me everywhere I hurt. She is there in every emergency room, every surgery room, every hospital room, and in my heart.
Probably more than anything else, suffering causes us to doubt or question God. Why must people suffer, especially those we consider to be good people. We want answers. In my medical sufferings, Marilyn gave me a lively experience of the truth that there is something better than an answer: a companion.
You can’t hold hands with an answer. You can’t share a pillow with an explanation. Reasons don’t shed tears with you.
But Jesus sheds tears with you. Yes, He does. In that He has suffered, He knows you in your suffering. Jesus defines sympathy and companionship. Jesus suffered continually in body, mind, and soul. He said, “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)
As bad as most sufferings are, worse is the suffering of temptation. As unfair as sickness is, our being sinners from conception forward seems more unfair. We have inherited sin from Adam. This inherited sin nature, to say nothing of our particular sins, brings defeat, guilt, condemnation, the wrath of God, and his threats to punish sin. Death is no escape, because eternal hell follows. I’ll admit it. I have questions.
But, what is true of other sufferings also is true of the suffering of temptation. Better than an answer is a companion. Jesus suffered from relentless and fierce temptation. In that He suffered temptation, He knows you in your temptations. He is able to save you, and a Savior is better than an explanation.
“We do not have [in Jesus] 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) “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)
The question of suffering is answered in the sufferings and sympathy of Christ. Jesus goes with us in all sufferings, even into the surgery of temptation.