I heard (or read – I don’t remember which) once that when talking with someone who is hurting, we should never say, “I know how you feel”. In fact, we probably don’t know how anyone else is feeling, no matter how similar of a situation we may have been through.
Having said that, we can certainly empathize with other people, and – when the time is right – share our own struggles with them. As Romans 12:15 instructs us, we should both rejoice and mourn together.
On the other hand, maybe you are in the seat of the person who is suffering right now. Maybe others have tried to comfort you with platitudes and proverbs, but it just isn’t helping. I will try to not offer you more of the same. Instead, I must do what is always required when my own abilities have run out: suggest someone else who can actually help.
We may know Jesus as the Great Physician, and He healed many while He was on earth. However, He Himself did not live a life free from pain – rather, He experienced pain of many kinds. Read all of Hebrews 2:9-18 to learn more. Even the first couple of verses of that passage confirm that Jesus knew suffering:
But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.
For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
Hebrews 2:9-10 NASB
You may be anywhere along the scope of suffering today, from being merely inconvenienced or frustrated, to living in pain or downright suffering. Jesus understands. And, when it is part of a larger plan for you to go through these things, He doesn’t bail on you (like a too-casual friend), or just keep His distance until you’ve worked things out (like those who don’t know how to comfort). He remains with us at all times – whether we feel like it or not. After all, He promised this to His disciples in Matthew 28:20, and I believe that this promise applies to all of His followers, as reiterated in Hebrews 13:5-6.
We must understand what this passage does not say: Jesus didn’t have someone break up with Him via a text message. He didn’t have to live with cancer (as far as we know). None of His friends were lost due to the inattention of drunk drivers. That is, He may not have gone through the exact same situation that you are going through. However, He did experience the very depths of human pain and suffering, and actually does understand how you feel.
For example, Jesus had all of his closest friends abandon Him when He was in His time of greatest need, as hostile forces were leading Him to an execution (the form of which remains one of the most horrifying means of inflicting suffering that mankind has invented):
But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.
Matthew 26:56 NASB
Isaiah described Him (prophetically, before Jesus was born to Mary) as follows:
He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Isaiah 53:3 NASB
Jesus experienced temptations and challenges in a different environment than we do, but technology and time periods don’t change the human heart. Jesus’ pain and grief were every bit as deep as those we experience today, and He – through His divine nature – can see into our hearts, minds, and souls to understand what we are struggling with.
I can’t pretend to know how you feel right now. I’ve felt my share of physical pain and heartache, but I can’t – and won’t – claim to have suffered like many others in this world, whose portion of trials seems to be greater than mine.
Still, I know Someone who absolutely does understand – completely – and who can offer you the healing you need. Sometimes, He works directly – through divine intervention, through our circumstances, or through healing for our heart and body. Other times, He works through others – physicians, psychiatrists, counselors, and friends (especially those who live to serve Him).
Whatever mercy and healing that Jesus may have prepared for you, I pray that you will find it today. Healing – of the kind we want – doesn’t always come immediately, but both healing and getting through the pain is possible with One who has been there – the Great Physician.
You may also want to read this post by another author whom I respect: https://lifereference.wordpress.com/2017/01/29/a-bridge-of-hope/
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.