Jesus Has Been There

It’s so easy to fail to sympathize with those who struggle in areas we don’t.

Before my dad got saved, he smoked for 20 years.  One day he decided to quit and did – just like that – no struggles, relapses or cravings.  He couldn’t understand how anyone could struggle to quit.  (He gave me permission to share this).  He’d say, “I don’t see why people can’t stop.  I just decided to quit and, boom, never had another cigarette.  It was easy.”

I, on the other hand, tried to quit numerous times, and failed repeatedly.  Once a friend and I decided we’d quit by making ourselves sick, so we each stuck 5 cigarettes in our mouth, lit and smoked them all at once.  By the time we finished, we’d cursed Sir Walter Raleigh.  We drove downtown and threw our packs out in a back alley, certain we were now smoke-free.

Next day I was scouring the alley for my pitched smokes.  Eventually I did quit, but I can sure sympathize with those who struggle.

Jesus can sympathize with our struggles, for he too knows what it’s like.  Hebrews 4:15 says:

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.  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.

Jesus knows what temptation feels like.  He endured the worst Satan could throw at him for 33 years without caving in.  We can’t imagine the force of temptation Jesus bore, for we often give in so quickly.

Imagine 3 soldiers are captured and interrogated.  First the captors promise pleasure.  Give us the information we want and we’ll give you wine, women and song.  Soldier #1 holds out for a while, then gives in.  Next the captors use torture.  Soldier #2 endures a few hours, then spills his guts.  Soldier #3 is beaten and battered, placed in solitary, and subjected to every conceivable torture for years but never breaks.  Who endured the most?  Jesus is like the last one – he bore the full force of Satan’s temptations for 33 years yet never gave in.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be tempted to lust, despair, and anger.  He was tempted to pride, selfishness, fear, apathy and unbelief.  He’s been there.

That’s why Hebrews urges us to come to him with confidence.  Jesus is sympathetic.  He won’t say, “What?  How could you fail again?  You just decide to quit lusting and you quit – boom – just like that.  I don’t know why you’re struggling so much to forgive that person.  Just do it!  Buck up!”

No, he’s been there.  So draw near to Jesus – pray – seek him.  He’s ready to help us in our weaknesses.

photo by SuperFantastic

  • Elaine

    Thanks for the encouragment, Mark!

    How amazing it is that we can come to the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and enter His presence with confidence, knowing we will never find condemnation but only mercy and grace to help in our time of need. We have been blessed beyond measure.

    Praying expectantly for family and friends who don't know Him yet as Lord and Savior. Their salvation would only add to the joy of Easter.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Amen Elaine! We truly have been blessed beyond measure to have such a wonderful high priest that we can bring all our needs to. And I’m praying too. Though I hadn’t thought about what a blessing it would be for family and friends to be saved on Easter. That would be really great!

  • JackW

    For me it was easy to quit, in fact I did it many times.

    The last time I quit was over 25 years ago.

    To be more like Him would be better.


    • Mark Altrogge

      Excellent Jack! To be more like him would be the ultimate better.

  • Eric G Wan

    Thanks Mark for sharing one of the not so bright moments of our lives. It means so much to see that you have the courage to be transparent and it moves me to do the same. Shouldn't this be how we should live our lives as Christians carrying each other's sorrows as well as joy?

    I read Stephen's book My Friend, My Hero, My Dad, and it was so thrilling to see how you were saved from your past sins.

    I am struggling with many other sins such as lust, coveteousness, and even pornography and same sex attraction. I am fighting hard in the Lord to get rid of these sins. So many times, I would cry out to God to just take these desires away because I would fail again and again. I ended up getting depressed and stop trying.

    But I realize that God is willing to forgive every time we confess to Him. As long as we live, I guess we should expect ourselves to sin less, but to be sinless, which is only in Christ. As we strive to be more like Him, it is only through seeing our own failures that brings more glory to God. Great reminder that Jesus was there tempted as we are, and it's so much more reassuring to know He is with us in this fight.

    • MarkAltrogge

      Hey Eric, It is incredibly humble of you to share your struggles here – God gives grace to the humble, so I know he will give you grace. I want you to know I really respect you for your humility and your perseverance in your love for Jesus and your fight to overcome sin. Jesus will complete the good work he's begun in you. He is for you infinitely more than you can imagine. Thank you for your comments and your encouragement!

      • Eric G Wan

        It is always a pleasure to talk to you, Mark. I admire and respect you as someone who genuinely cares about others. I really didn't know what to expect for an answer but I can't put to words how I really appreciate your encouragement, love and your respect for me in midst of people quick to point fingers. I have only shared this with and my counselor before.

        I'm reading your comment over again and again and it just means so much to me that you would care for me like a shepherd tending a lost wounded sheep. I can't help but think how Jesus is like our Good Shepherd. if the Lord will, I would love to meet you either on earth or in heaven.

        • Mark Altrogge

          Hey Eric,

          I'd love to meet you as well! Keep up the good fight my friend!

  • MarkAltrogge

    Same here, Paula!