Jesus and John
“Can you honestly look me in the eyes and tell me that God knows my name, knows what I’m going through, and cares about what happens to me?”
Even though it was a few years ago, I remember this conversation vividly. I was sitting across the table from a guy, let’s call him John, I had met for the first time only moments before. John had begun to tell me about how everything around him was falling apart and that he wanted to end his life. He concluded his story with the sentence above. It was obvious that John had heard all of the placating Christian clichés before: “God brought you to it, he’ll bring you through it.” “When God closes a door, he opens a window.” “God helps those who help themselves.”
In the midst of John’s desperation, these sayings hadn’t been helpful. The clichés aren’t beneficial, or even biblical, so why do we hear them over and over again? Probably because it’s significantly easier to make appeasing statements to those who are hurting than to actually enter into their hurt with them.
Jesus in our World
During Jesus’ time on earth, we see him constantly entering into people’s hurt. In fact, Matthew 20:28 tells us that this is the very reason that Jesus came: “the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” God saw a world full of people who were hurting, and instead of leaving it that way, John chapter 3 tells us that he loved it so much that he sent his only son to offer new life. Jesus didn’t sit in heaven and toss down clichés, he came into our hurting world and handed out grace.
No one had ever entered into John’s hurt with him. Every time he was vulnerable and shared his struggles with someone, they had tossed him a placating statement – “God will never give you more than you can handle, John! Hang in there!” – and then they were gone.
Jesus in our Hurt
Sitting across the table from John that day, I remember feeling an overwhelming impulse not to drop another cliché on him. It was as if Jesus was telling me, “I want to use you to enter into John’s hurt.” The truth is that Jesus is still entering into people’s hurt and handing out grace today. That day, Jesus met John right where he was. Not with condemnation, but with grace. Not with empty words, but with abundant life.
Even though I was only the conduit, an instrument that Jesus used to enter into John’s hurt, I will always remember that day. John and I have walked through life together for the last few years in a relationship that God has used to show grace to each of us.
Our hope at Restore Austin is to be that conduit for those who are hurting. We want to be used by Jesus so that he can enter into your hurt and hand you grace. He knows your name, he knows what you’re going through, and he cares about what happens to you.
If you’re walking through hurt right now, and maybe all you’ve ever heard from the church are placating Christian clichés, I’d love to talk with you. I would love to introduce you to the one who has shown me, John, and so many others his overwhelming grace. If that’s you, you can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.