Experience has a way of forming and tempering who we are. Not only in the way we react and respond to a particular situation, but also in the way we view the words and actions of others. Our presumed knowledge of another’s experiences often determines if we trust their counsel, advice, and help when we are in need. We really are looking for two things, someone that has been in similar circumstances so we feel we can relate to them and we want that person to have overcome whatever difficulty that you had in common.
We all probably know people who claim to have the solutions for all of our problems, all of our communities’ struggles, and all of the world’s ills. I quickly become skeptical when it appears as if they have never struggled with any of the problems that I, my community, and the world face. The answers are too neatly packaged because they do not reflect real life. On the other hand, it is equally frustrating to have someone try to convince me they have the solution I need when they are worse off than I am. I know many people who try to teach on the benefits of Godly financial stewardship, yet their personal financial picture is in ruins. I believe there is great benefit to handling finances in such a way that God is honored and He comes first, but I’m not sure it helps a lot to have someone try to teach that principle when their life appears like they haven’t lived it.
That is why the verses in our study from Hebrews 2:14-18 are such an encouragement.
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers and sisters in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Jesus not only experienced the human-ness that we have, and everything that entails, He overcame the temptations that continually cause me to stumble. He knows how hard it is and He can relate to the difficulty you and I have in living life in faithful obedience. He is not a “pie in the sky” God that looks down his nose at us and questions why we don’t get it right — He did it, why can’t we? He knows that sin and temptation can be overcome, but He also knows how hard that is. Jesus had the same struggles we have in facing the temptations to sin, yet he refused to give in. In the struggles we have, He says, “I can relate”. His mercy comes from an understanding of the frailty of mankind.
This is a Savior I can trust! He has been where I am at and He has successfully conquered every problem that I will face. It wasn’t an easy, natural thing for Him any more than it is for me. I can trust Him to walk me through each temptation without my having to give in to it because He has already been down that path without sin. I can also trust Him to show mercy and forgiveness if I stumble and “don’t get it right” because He understands just how hard it is. His challenge that I “have not yet resisted temptation to the point of shedding blood” is a poignant reminder that He does know just how hard it is — He shed His blood.
Praise God! His mercy endures forever!