Acquainted With Grief, Part One

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. - Isaiah 53:3

A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  Hardly the way we wish to describe our Lord and Savior, or is it?  Yes, we want to think of our Savior as strong and formidable.  We cherish the thoughts of Him conquering death and hell.  Triumphant.  Victorious.  Unyielding.  Undefeated.  These adjectives give us hope, but dare I say that the phrases "man of sorrows" and "acquainted with grief" give us comfort.

Think about it for a minute.  Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, was acquainted with our grief.  What exactly does that mean?  It means that He felt our pain.  It means that He understood every grief that we would ever bear.  It means He shouldered our heartaches, sorrows and despair.  It means he felt the weight of our loneliness and our guilt.  In His thirty-three years on this earth, particularly in those last hours, He became painfully familiar with the worst of our worst feelings.  And for the remainder of the week, I would like to single out a few of those griefs that Jesus bore.

Let's begin with sorrow.  We're all familiar with it.  According to the online dictionary, sorrow is a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others.  Sounds about right, doesn't it?  Deep distress.  Loss.  Disappointment.  Misfortune.  We've all experienced one or all of those.  We know what it's like to cry until we can't cry anymore.  We understand how it feels to literally make ourselves sick with sorrow.  Its grip is fierce.  Its taste is bitter.  And its effect on our heart and soul is devastating.  Yes, we are all well-acquainted with sorrow, but fortunately for us, so is our Lord.

Yes, He completely understands our tears.  He is familiar with that feeling of deep distress, for He faced it Himself.  He has felt the tears.  He is acquainted with the ache in His chest.  He knows all too well the definition and devastation of sorrow.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! - John 11:33-36

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. - Luke 19:41-44

And they came to a place which was named Gethsemane: and he saith to his disciples, Sit ye here, while I shall pray. And he taketh with him Peter and James and John, and began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy; And saith unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death: tarry ye here, and watch. - Mark 14:32-34

Jesus wept over the loss of a friend and the grief of the family.  He wept over a city that couldn't seem to grasp what He was trying to tell them.  He grieved over the painful price He was going to have to pay to fulfill His Father's plan.  He wept.  He grieved.  He was sorrowful.

So, how does that help us?  How can that possibly bring us comfort?  I don't know about you, but to me, it brings comfort because if Jesus was moved with compassion for others, I can trust He'll be moved to compassion for me.  Also, there's no comfort in the world like the comfort that can only be received by someone who truly knows and understands.  Encouragement from someone who's walked in our shoes is easier to swallow than that from someone who couldn't possibly understand because they simply haven't been there.

Jesus came down from Heaven to die on an old rugged cross and to be buried and rise again, but I don't think that was all.  I think part of the plan was also for Him to live the life of a "regular Joe" like you and me so that He could be well-acquainted with our sorrows.  He did this so that when we come to Him in our grief, He can hold us and say, "Yes, child, I know.  I truly understand."  And we can smile through our tears because we know He speaks the truth.