The Burden of Sorrow

He, Himself, bore our sorrows….

I was having a deep and compelling conversation with a sister in Christ yesterday about suffering and grief, especially the random kind, when she quoted the above verse about Jesus being the one to bear our sorrows. And I was suddenly struck with the absolute horror of  living through my pain without His bearing my sorrow.

As a member of a Christian family, I was raised in what I call a “gospel rich” environment. The message of Jesus’ total love for us,  His sacrificial, redemptive death, God’s power in His resurrection and His ultimate purpose to buy back mankind from slavery to sin, is quintessential to my understanding of life. God’s salvation through Jesus Christ solves my sin problem and establishes me in a relationship with God. This gospel is foundational.

What continues to confound me however, is the essential implications of this gospel message in my every day life.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross affords me salvation, not for eternity alone, but also for this life. His gift, though at its core, redemptive for eternity, is also redemptive for every facet of the journey. By his death, by his suffering, he bears my suffering.

I know in small measure the personal pain entailed in sharing in someone else’s sorrow.  I have commiserated and comforted women who have suffered deep and, in this life, permanent loss. Just the other day I was listening to a story of loss that broke my heart. I shared in the sorrow.  But even as I shared in the sorrow, I knew that I could not “bear” that sorrow. Only Jesus can bear our sorrows with us and for us. The raw pain I live with day in and day out finds its only true alleviation in Christ and His redemptive work. This is the gospel. This is our eternal expectation and hope.

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