“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” — Hebrews 4:14-16
In American culture, we idolize self-sufficiency. We love to hear stories about the self-made man, the strong, independent woman, or the high plains drifter that arrives in town, saves the day and rides into the sunset unburdened by attachments. We like rags-to-riches stories and stories of people who achieve their dreams with nothing but sweat and determination. We value freedoms, liberties, and the ability to pursue individual happiness in whatever form that takes. These ideals and values are beneficial in that they have enabled our society to push itself, to create and dream without limitations. However, there is an element of self-deception hidden within them.
The reality is that self-sufficiency is an illusion. We are all interconnected, interdependent, needy people! Whether we like to admit it or not, there are situations that we simply cannot handle alone. Many times we allow our pride to keep us from turning to God for help. Other times, we feel as though we are unworthy to receive the assistance we need. There are many times in my own life when I struggled to work through a situation on my own when all it would have taken is a simple request for assistance and the problem could have been easily handled. That’s one of the reasons that I love the passage referenced above.
In the Jewish faith, the High Priest was the only one that was allowed to approach God and he served as an intermediary for the people. Now that Christ has come, we no longer need a human intermediary because Jesus, the Son of God, is our advocate before the Father. Due to His time here on earth, Scripture tells us that He understands our weaknesses. He’s been there and done that. It’s the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Sympathy is “acknowledging another person’s emotional hardships and providing comfort and assurance,” but empathy is “understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.” So when we cry out to God, He doesn’t just know how you feel in an intellectual, detached manner. He has experienced the depth of raw emotion and hurt that we sometimes feel, and because He is God, He always knows just what we need to overcome our circumstance!
When I was a young child, my favorite movie was the Wizard of Oz. The bright colors, silly characters, goofy songs and terrifying flying monkeys were just mesmerizing to me. (I still catch myself whistling/singing “If I only had a brain…” under my breath. Haha!) But my favorite part was when they finally made their way to Emerald City and were granted an audience with the Wizard. I loved how the Wizard had just what each of the characters needed to complete their development into the person they were supposed to be: courage, a heart, a brain, or just a way to return home. The Wizard was the man with all the answers and all companions had to do was ask.
Friends, the same is true for you and I. We can walk boldly into the throne room of God and expect to find what we need there. Mercy, Grace, Provision, Forgiveness, Wisdom, Healing. It’s all freely offered to us by a loving Father and all we have to do is ask. The answer you receive may not look like you expected, but you will find the help you need when you need it most.
Prayer: Almighty Father, we boldly come to You today to present our needs. Some of us are doing okay, and just need enough grace to live in a way that is pleasing to You. But for others, we are turning to You in an hour of desperation. We look to You for help, because You are Sovereign over every person and every situation, and Your promises have never failed. We need Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your strength to continue and we ask it in the name of Jesus. Amen.