3. Jesus has suffered as we have…and more.
If you’d said this to me during the darkest of my wilderness days, I would have probably gotten very cranky. Sometimes it feels like Jesus is that perfect older brother who does everything right and, more importantly, never does anything wrong.
When we lean into that bitter attitude, we might even find ourselves denying Jesus’ humanity in a bid to make ourselves feel better (“Well, Jesus is God, so of course He did everything perfectly! But I’m only human…”). Or perhaps doing the opposite: denying Jesus’ divinity (“What can God possibly do in this situation? It’s hopeless!”).
If you’re in a season of suffering and someone reminds you—or you read the Gospels and are reminded yourself—that nothing you can go through is more than Jesus experienced Himself, you might bristle at it, feeling like that imperfect younger sibling and tempted to resentment rather than admiration.
But more often than not, that resentment is a sign that you’re clutching your troubles more tightly than you’re holding onto Jesus. Quite possibly, you have a bigger view of your suffering than you do of God’s sovereignty (I know I did).
When you go on a hike, it’s foolish to think that you’re the first one in the world to blaze that trail. There are signposts everywhere, telling you how long the walk is, what the grade is, and what you’re going to see on the way. There are steps cut out in advance for you and handrails to hold in the more dangerous sections. All you have to do on that walk is to trust the signposts, follow the directions, and not try to blaze a trail of your own. If there’s a tour guide available, that’s even better!
The Gospel is the story of how Jesus has given us everything…including Himself. Using the language of “Footprints,” He’s walked this road before us, so His footprints are easy to follow.
Jesus is the ultimate tour guide, the pioneer of this trail (Hebrews 12:2), but you have to let Him lead. What does that look like? Well, you have to pay attention to the signs and listen to the Guide (make space to read your Bible faithfully). You have to talk with the Guide and ask questions where you’re uncertain (carve out time to talk with God in prayer).
You have to lean on the handrails of hope when the going gets tough (Hebrews 6:19) and maybe even on other people who represent God’s mercies and ministrations to you in the wilderness. You may even need to watch out for snakes on the trail.
4. If God gives you a burden too heavy to carry, it’s because it’s a two-man job.
There’s an incredibly dangerous but exceedingly palatable myth floating around out there: “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”
The truth is that if you’re a Christian for more than a minute, God will give you more than you can handle. Several times, God has given me things that are too heavy to bear. Soul-crushing things that even made me wish I’d never been born (Job 3). He doesn’t always space them out neatly, either. Sometimes they come all at once.
If you cannot lift what’s been delivered to your doorstep (and even if you can), you need to seek help from the only one strong enough to carry it (and you). What does that look like?
It’s painful, for starters. It involves the slow death of an insidious self-reliance that creeps up on us every second we’re immersed in the proudly independent culture of the West.
As a trained psychologist, I will do everything and anything in my power to solve my problems before I take them to God. But God wants us to take our problems to Him first, even if the solution ends up being human, not divine (at least in our eyes). He is God, not us.
Trying to solve our problems on our own strength is like trying to start our campfire with flint and steel when there’s a bonfire already roaring at our backs.
Remember that the disease of disordered priorities is one of the reasons why God takes away what is dear to us…so that we will reach out for better things. But, ultimately, God always gives much more than He takes away. And the more He offers is always more of Himself: His presence, His sufficiency, His sovereignty, His grace, His mercies, and His daily companionship.
If you are mourning the loss of good things, know that your future will involve purpose and fulfilment in abundance, since God only prunes to bring about even greater fruitfulness in your life (John 15:1-16).
So if He’s stripped something away from you, don’t jump to complain. Stand back and watch Him work, and learn to notice the small mercies that every new day brings. I promise they will be more than enough, even on the days when you find yourself asking, as the Israelites did, “But what is it?” (Exodus 16:15)
God isn’t just faithful Samwise Gamgee, who says to the travel-weary Frodo, “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” Jesus can do both—if we let Him.
And if we do, what we see snaking up the side of Mount Doom is not two sets of footsteps, but one, leading to the place where Jesus has already wrenched the chains from our necks, cast the ring into the fire, and won the battle against the Enemy forever.
All we have to do is surrender.
About the Author
Jasmine completed her Bachelor degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2012. Also a qualified psychologist with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in clinical psychology, Jasmine’s dream is to write stories that weave together her love for Jesus, her passion for mental health, and her struggles with chronic illness.
When she isn’t killing defenseless house plants, Jasmine enjoys devouring books, dabbling in floristry, playing the piano, eating peanut butter out of the jar, and wishing it rained more often. Jasmine is married to David, and together they make their home a couple of hours’ north of Sydney, Australia. You can stalk her on social media or visit her official website at http://www.jjfischer.com, where she’s always open to swapping good memes, talking about chickens, or whingeing about Luke Skywalker.