“The cold lessons of Stoicism have no power in them. Resignation and submission to the will of God are excellent things to talk about in fine weather. But when the storm strikes us, and hearts ache, and tears flow, and gaps are made in our family circle, and friends fail us, and money makes itself wings, and sickness lays us low, we want something more than abstract principles and general lessons. We want a living, personal Friend, a Friend to whom we can turn with firm confidence that he can help and feel.”
― J.C. RYLE (1816–1900)
THE GREAT PREACHER compels toward us this classic and foundational truth: there is no better Friend than the Lord Jesus, for whom suffering was made!
Why was suffering made for Jesus and Jesus for it? For one rational reason at least: just so there would be some credibility in the Godhead for understanding when it comes to our suffering.
They who spat on our Saviour, who scourged him within an inch of his life, them that goaded him to jump off his cross; are they not one hundred times worse than those against us? Yet, we number their possie. We are such compatriots of damnation; still we are made friends of Grace. How can we possibly get our heads around such a thing that our hearts will forever wrangle with? Such things defy our conciliation.
Let us speak in plain terms with each other, just for one paragraph:
The Lord Jesus, if anyone is to know, if anyone is to feel as we do, it has to be him; the risen Lord who conquered death, though death punished him so severely.
We have a Friend indeed in this one who came to die as we should die. He that took that thrashing like we deserve – yet that which we never got – has experienced every suffering imaginable.
He who has been spent enough to die a thousand deaths – who has never sinned and never can – is made sin for us such that his Friendship can reach right into us. If he who can be made sin when he has no sin desires it, he seeks our Friendship.
The greatest test of Friendship is also its greatest testimony of our need of it. Friendship never fails as love never fails. This Friend we have – no ordinary god – is a Friend for the storm, for the fire, for the dark night, for the rancid loneliness, for the golden triangle of mental and emotional ills.
It is a cosmic understatement: what a Friend we have in Jesus! A real and living Saviour we have; an empathic Companion with whom to turn life’s darkest pages and chapters with.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.