As my life experience grows I find that I’m able to relate to an ever widening range of people. From experience, I know about the challenges of growing up as a child, of being a teenage boy, and of college. I know about marriage. I know about job interviews. I know about starting a business. I know about sleepless nights. Depression. Joblessness. Bills. Conflict. Loss of a loved one. Each and every experience gives me more and more empathy for those who are going through similar situations. I’m able to feel a little bit of what other people are feeling in similar situations.
But what about God? Can he empathize with us? He’s totally perfect. He’s transcendent. He is all powerful. He needs nothing. How could God ever really relate to us? How could he truly empathize with the difficulties of being a human in a broken world?
The writer of Hebrews tells us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15).” God-in-the-flesh, Jesus has gone through every type of trial that we have ever experienced. Of course, Jesus never got dumped by a girlfriend by text message. But Jesus certainly experienced what it meant to be abandoned by the ones he loved deeply. Jesus experienced every kind of trial we experience. And in doing so, he is able to sympathize with us. In our Gospel lesson (Luke 2:41-52) the boy Jesus even gets in deep trouble with his parents. Yet he did not sin.
So not only is Jesus able to forgive us by being the perfect sacrifice, he is also able to empathize with our weakness. And because of this fact, we can have supreme confidence that he understands and really hears us when we call out to him in prayer. God knows. Therefore, whatever your trial, pray with confidence that he hears and understands you. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb 4:16).”
Father Kurt is the Pastor of Light of Christ Anglican Church in Georgetown, TX