“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away…
He had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.” Isaiah 53:3-9
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2
We see and hear Jesus’s mistreatment- mocking, accusation, flogging, excruciating torment of mind and body- and wince. We shrink from such suffering, or get stuck in the pain and see no way out. But for our Savior, it was a pathway, a means to joyful end, a necessary road to glory. Do you see it? There in the middle, brought us peace, with his wounds we are healed. And for the joy set before him. In the midst, in the choke and wretchedness of the agony, is the promise of peace, healing, joy.
The challenge for us is that pain can distort our perspective. Angry fists and caustic words can pummel at reason and sensibilities. Beaten down, accused, and weary, we can lose our ability to see rightly. God has holy purpose in suffering, and we mustn’t lose sight of the blessedness of the pathway and joy on the other side.
Living this side of the cross we have the glorious picture of what is that joy- full and abundant life, and freedom in Christ. We experience the power of the resurrection as we share in the fellowship of suffering, so we are not defeated. We know the richness of salvation’s spiritual blessings that fill and guard and guide us. (Ephesians 1:3-14; Philippians 3:10-11)
For the present, we walk pain’s path, that way made rocky and littered by Eden’s fallout. But Jesus is nigh, and in His determined ‘while,’ restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. He never wastes it. Beaten olives produce good oil.
What tangle do we need extricating from in order to see the righteous end? Where does our vision need to shift from the near-sight of pain to the far-sight of joy? A long look at the Suffering Savior affords glorious worship of the Perfecter of Faith. (1 Peter 5:10)
God of all grace, humble me and keep me from sin along this day’s path. Establish my heart firm in faith, trusting Your strength, and praising Your dominion over all. (1 Peter 5:6-11)