“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
I wonder if we truly stop and think of Jesus in this way, I wonder if we understand that He carried constant sorrow and He was very familiar with grief and certainly in ways that we will never be acquainted with. We will never agonize as to sweat great drops of blood as He did in the garden, nor will we actually go to the cross for our sins, He did that for us willingly. He was rejected all of His life by those around Him, even some of His own family knew Him not. He is the stone that was rejected by the priests, the scribes and the Pharisees, the religionists’ builders of His day. He is that wonderful stone that is the cornerstone, the very sure, firm and everlasting foundation upon which our faith and our hope are built.
That is why the hearts of the disciples were filled with sorrow when He told them that He must leave them for they knew not what they would do without their foundation. They didn’t understand at that very moment where He was going and that what He would accomplish would become the very foundation of their joy. His leaving, His death and His glorious resurrection brought them salvation, eternal life and all the blessings and gifts of His grace, just as it does for us.
I started thinking about sorrow and the Man of Sorrows to understand the abiding sorrow in my own life. It is the sorrow over the reality of death and broken relationships. It is the sorrow over sin, not only my own but the sin of others as well. Some try out their well meaning coping mechanisms that result in thoughts such as ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘count your blessings’ and those become their pat answers. But I wonder to what end? Often I think it is to chase away the sorrowing spirit but why do we think sorrow is not to permeate our lives, it was Jesus’ constant companion.
I wonder if we realize often enough that to be a people of sorrow and acquainted with grief is very much a part of our sojourning here? So often we want to shake off our own sorrows and grief, we want them to slide right off of our back and we want to be done with them and yet do we? That is the reaction of the flesh, not the spirit. I read a statement recently that said “A main ingredient of sorrow is emptiness, a deep and devastating emptiness” and I fully related to that. Perhaps it is an empty place at the table or empty relationships that used to be full. Sorrow leaves us empty but in our emptiness we find that what Jesus said to the Apostle Paul is true for us too. “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)
The spirit needs to not only endure with patience but to absorb the suffering and sorrow for it has a great work to do. It humbles us and shows us our frailty and our total dependence upon God. It causes us to seek our solace and our comfort in Him and as we do our faith is strengthened. We think that our joy has to be felt day in and day out and people often confuse emotions for joy and then when the emotions die down does the joy remain? Joy isn’t in the feelings and any joy that is outside of God and the Lord Jesus is fleeting, temporal and sometimes disappointing in the end.
It is when our joy is in Christ and things eternal that it is real and will abide forever and forever. It is the joy that is set before us in Christ Jesus just as it was set before the disciples and as Jesus said to them, He also says to us. Our sorrow will be turned to joy, it will be joy full and no man taketh it from us.
Grace and Peace!