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Seventy-Seven

Tonight I went to a bible study for the first time in a very long time.

I had been invited on four different occasions, three times by the same person and once by someone different. At first, I was apprehensive to go. Through therapy I have learned that I have some deep rooted self-esteem issues, and those issues have recently impeded my ability to step out and try new things. Through therapy and the Lord, however, I am working on those issues. Then, there is the fact that the Bible study is in Hampton. I love that town with all my heart, and I will never be able to repay the sweet residents there for their love, kindness and prayers that they offered me when (and since) Jorre passed, but it is hard to go there. It is hard to pass the house we shared together while married. It is hard to drive down the highway, knowing that he did the same the morning before he died. It is hard to see the school where he taught and coached. It is hard, but I decided to face all of those things, and I am thankful that I did.

During the Bible study, we discussed several chapters in Luke, and people shared what God had spoken to them through those chapters. People also shared various testimonies about how God had moved in their life through the week. In the midst of the sharing, God used two specific testimonies to touch my heart. One young lady talked about how difficult it is for her encounter certain people who affected her husband’s life in negative ways in the past, and she was very open about how she wants to pray for those people rather than be angry with them. Another young man opened up about how hard it is to forgive the people that killed his father and how he wants to find the strength through the Lord to offer such forgiveness. I listened intently, and God began to speak.

I have been hurt. I have been broken in a way that I have not shared with the world, and if I ever decide to share how I have been hurt, I am not sure when that will be. But the pain that I have experienced stemming from someone in my life is overwhelming. It is consuming.

I battle with it on a daily basis. I learned how to bury the disappointment, the pain, the betrayal, the internal suffering. I even forgave this person for what they did, although it is seemingly unforgivable.

This is something that I discuss in therapy often, and it helps to talk with someone about it. But since I have been discussing it, those same emotions have resurfaced: rage, embarrassment, confusion, and yes- unforgiveness.

As I listened to this brother and sister in Christ discuss their struggle with unforgiveness, I reflected upon my own situation. As I drove home, I talked with God. I said, “Lord, how many times do you expect me to forgive this person? How many times do you expect me to forgive this situation?” And He clearly responded:

“Seventy-seven times.”

His words reference a parable that Peter sparks in Matthew 20, when Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, how many times do I forgive my brother? Seven times?” and Jesus responds, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

He continues by telling the disciples a parable about a master and a servant. The servant owes the master ten-thousand talents, which, according to the NIV translation, is several million dollars. He master tells the servant that if he does not pay his debt, he and his family will be punished. The servant begs for mercy, and because he pleads, the master pities him and forgives his debt.

The Bible then tells us that a fellow servant of the servant that had been forgiven owes him a hundred denarii, which is around a few dollars. His debt certainly did not compare to the debt that the master forgave. However, when the fellow servant begs for mercy, the servant whose debt had been forgiven does not pity him, and he throws him in jail. The master hears of the servant’s reaction, and he questions him as to why he did not have the same mercy on his fellow servant as he did on him.

If Jesus, our Master, the One who is full of mercy and love, the One who was beaten, slandered, ridiculed and marred beyond recognition because of my sin, because of my debt, because of my wrongdoing, can forgive me, who am I to refuse forgiveness toward someone else? Who am I to shun mercy and choose anger? Jesus did not have to finish the work on the cross. He could have easily called down legions of angels to usher Him to heaven. But He chose not to. He chose to die, to die an unthinkable, unforgivable death, not only for me, but for the very people that inflicted those atrocities upon Him.

He selflessly chose a death that I deserve, so that He could offer forgiveness for my unforgivable sins. And I think I am above forgiving someone seventy-seven times? I do not think so.

The power to forgive is not found within ourselves.

The power to forgive is found within Christ.

“Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13

The Staff

I have come to a point where I do not feel very equipped for life.

Sure, one might say that I am educationally equipped. I received a Bachelors degree in English in May 2011. I completed a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in December 2015. There was a time when I thought that would be enough to equip me for the future, but I was wrong.

For four years, I thought I was “socially” equipped; I met Jorre, and we started dating. We fell in love, and we married on June 18, 2016. I followed the social norm- I met someone, that person became my soulmate, we married and began a life together; however, I quickly became unequipped when he suddenly passed away three months after our wedding on September 27, 2016. I eventually became socially awkward; now I struggle with feeling misplaced when I compare myself to my friends- they are married, while I am not. They have families, while I have no one to start a family with.

They are happy, while I am struggle with the concept of happiness.

I often ask myself, “How do you plan to face life when you are so inadequately equipped? You thought you were equipped. You went to college, you earned two degrees, you started a career, you found a person to build your life with, you were married. But that all changed within an instance. Now what do you have to equip you for this next phase of your journey?”

I ask myself these questions, but God reminds me of Moses. Moses asked God these very same questions when God confronted him with the task to deliver the Hebrews from the hand of Egypt.

Then Moses answered, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’ The LORD said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” And he replied, “A staff.” And the LORD said, “Throw it on the ground.” So Moses threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent… (Exodus 4:1-3)

And the LORD said, “And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:17)

If you take a look at Moses’s life, he was not at all equipped to deliver God’s people from Egypt. He was not raised in a normal home; in fact, he was raised in the very home that oppressed his people, the very home that subjected his own biological family to the horrors of slavery. Can you imagine how torn he felt, being a Hebrew in a family that loathed the Hebrews as a people? His morals had been compromised, leaving him even more unequipped. He witnessed an Egyptian taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave, and he murdered the taskmaster because of it. Much to his horror, he later discovered that two other Hebrews had seen him commit the murder, thus causing Pharaoh’s anger.  Pharaoh’s disapproval of Moses’s actions influenced him to kill Moses. Out of fear for his life, Moses fled, leaving all that he knew behind in Egypt.

He relays these thoughts to God. He converses with the Creator, giving Him reason after reason as to why he is not equipped enough to perform such a task on His behalf. “They won’t believe me.” Why? Well, because he lived in the home of Pharaoh for so many years, and he possibly had great influence. I am sure his fellow Hebrews thought, “Well, why did Moses choose to ignore our sufferings then, when he was in a good position in Pharaoh’s home?” He tells God that he is slow at speech- he mostly likely stuttered. How would it be possible for a man with a stutter to speak in front of a Pharaoh-a king-with confidence and fierceness? How would it be possible for a man with a stutter to stand in front of a multitude of people and convince them that their God had called him to perform such a task? How, when he was so unequipped?

And yet God continues to pursue Moses. God urges him to complete a task that is better suited for a gifted orator, that is better suited for a valiant warrior, that is better suited for a man who is more equipped.

All that Moses had was a staff. It is possible that the only thing Moses was equipped to do was being a shepherd. It was not glamorous by any means; he herded sheep with a long piece of old wood. So, God asked him, “What is that in your hand?” Can you imagine what Moses thought when he looked at that staff?

This staff is my life now. It is not much. It is not what I had hoped for in life. It reminds me that I somehow ended up here, in a place that I never planned. It is not what I wanted to be in life. It is a reflection of my broken dreams. It is all I have left.

But God said no, you may THINK that is what that staff is; you may THINK that staff represents who you are; you may THINK that staff says, you are only a shepherd, you only herd sheep, you are only a murderer, you are only a stutterer, you are only broken, you are only a failure, you are only misplaced, you are only a failure- yes, that may be what you see when you look upon that staff, but God sees an instrument to perform His signs and wonders, God sees a means to transform the pain from the past into a beacon of hope for the future, God sees the remnant of your inadequacies as a weapon for His glory, God sees His opportunity to equip you.

You may be like Moses. All you may be equipped with is a staff, and you may place the weight on your pain upon that staff. Your failures. Your inadequacies. No, a staff is not much. But God sees your staff, He sees your shortcomings, He sees your failures, He sees your misplacement, and He sees the tool that He plans to use to advance you, to promote you, to prosper you for His glory and for His purpose.

All you have to do is trust Him and submit to His call. Believe that nothing is impossible with Him and know that you might be unequipped compared to the world’s standards, but God is ready to equip you according to His standards.

Throw down your staff.

 

-Lexi

I Quit.

Today I quit x-ray school.

For a year since Jorre passed, I have been scrambling to find my idea of “normalcy.” I tried to go back to teaching, but because it was so connected to my life with Jorre, I could not bring myself to bear it. So, I quit.

After I left teaching, I had the idea to go back to school- even though I already earned a Bachelors and a Masters degree. I wanted nothing to do with my “old life”; I wanted to do something completely different, and I wanted to do something that was not connected to Jorre.

I decided to go to radiology school. This was a complete turn around from my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, but that is what I thought I wanted- something totally different. I had to take two prerequisite classes in the summer: Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2 with labs. I started class in June, and I quickly became obsessed with studying.

Here is where things went wrong. Studying became my way of avoiding what has happened to me the past year. Studying became an obsession, so instead of obsessing over my grief, I decided to obsess over textbook. I studied from 2:00-11:00 PM on weekdays and from 10 AM-10 PM on weekends. I engulfed myself in my classwork to forget- and for the time being, it worked.

However, for the past six weeks, I have been in radiology school, and I have not enjoyed one minute of it. I have slowly become more and more depressed. I have had terrifying thoughts about myself- about not wanting to be here, about how not being alive would be easier, about how I want to run away, about how much I hate myself and my life. These thoughts are particularly alarming to me since I have a history of depression and suicide, and it is a path I never want to journey down again.

I do not entirely blame my dislike for school for being depressed or these thoughts. When someone you love dies, especially someone close like Jorre, your whole life, including your perspective of life, is altered. You are jolted, and the things in your life that you placed neatly in order suddenly become disarrayed- like a ball of yarn that quickly begins to unravel on the floor, and you cannot pick up the strings. I have not been able to stop the yarn from unraveling- not on my own, at least.

To be quite honest, I have been very angry with God. I have found myself in a place with Him that I never imagined I would be. I was more than happy with my life before Jorre died. I was married, I was a coach’s wife, I had a new career. I was doing all of these “normal” things, things that I had desired since adolescence. And God knew that. He knew that I hated being lonely. He knew that I wanted to be married. He knew that I wanted to teach college students. He knew. But then, suddenly, my life drastically changed in a moment’s time. Within a single phone call, I became crippled in all aspects of my livelihood.

I began to hate the card that was dealt to me, and I could not understand why God would allow such awful things to me happen to me. Why me? Why am I cursed? Is my diminished health not enough? Have I not been good enough? What did I do to deserve this? I loathed the direction my life was heading. I hated the fact that I was going back to school, that my husband had died, that I had suddenly become a 30-year-old widow, unmarried, without children, and without a stable career. I felt like an absolute failure, and I despised myself for it.

I stopped reading my Bible. I stopped going to church. I stopped believing that He had my best interest in mind. I began avoiding Him and worshiping school. All that I knew and believed about God’s goodness, I decided to push aside. I decided that if God would not when I wanted, then I would.

But that did not work. The roots of misery have grown deeper and deeper- so deep that I have gotten to a point to where I know if I do not make some specific choices regarding my life, I will not survive the grief, nor will I survive the depression.

The truth is, teaching was not what was meant to fulfill my life anyway. In fact, I have been wrestling with God for years about what I am truly supposed to do with my life. I was born to write, and not write about anything, but I was born to write about Him and for Him. I was called to speak to hurting people on His behalf, to share His love and His goodness in the midst of the pain. That is what I am meant to do- not teach in classroom, to take x-rays or have a “normal” life. I have been angry with Him for calling me, for having a plan for me that has been quite abnormal thus far. And I am tired of running from Him. I am tired of wrestling with Him over His will for me. I have tried life by my plan in many more ways than one, but I cannot fight it anymore. My way is obviously not working, despite my best efforts. Whatever I do, whatever I try, whatever I use to fill the void that only God can fill, I only become more miserable.

The point is, when I think, “What have I done to deserve this? Why me? Have I not been good enough?”, these things are centered around me- these thoughts are not centered around God. Of course I will fail when I focus on me. It reminds me of when Moses was having a conversation with God after He called him to deliver the Hebrews from the hand of the Egyptians. Moses said to God, “But who am I? Who am I to perform such a task?” I imagine Moses longed for a normal life, too, after his traumatic circumstances; he had been drawn from the Nile River as a baby, he had been raised in a family that truly was not his family, he had murdered a fellow Egyptian, he had been displaced in the desert. He finally found a place to call home and married his wife Zipporah, but then God emerged onto the scene and called Him to perform an unthinkable task. And he rightfully questioned, “Who am I, God?”

God sees us in a much different light than we see ourselves. He knows we are weak. He knows that we are easily hurt. He knows that we are prone to depression. He knows that we often feel lost. He knows this. So, when we ask Him the question, “Who am I to survive this, Lord?”, He responds to us in the same way He responded to Moses: “I will be with you. I AM WHO I AM.” I am not, but He IS. I cannot provide for myself, but He CAN. I am not strong, but He IS. I do not hold the answers, but He DOES. I have taken my eyes off of His promises in my anger, and I have forgotten that He IS. Yes, I am NOT, but in reality, that does not matter. I am a child of the King, just as Moses was, and He has yet to fail me, and He never will fail me.

Last night I told God, “Here I am. I am done doing things my way. I am sorry I have been so angry with You. Fix me and use me.”

Since then I have felt an overwhelming peace. Yes, right now I do not have a job or a fool-proof plan in man’s eyes, but I know that God will provide. I am scared, but He has reminded me that He is my shelter and my provider. I do not trust myself, but I trust Him, and who better to trust than the Creator Himself? I cannot see where I am going at this point, but if I could see, why would I need God in the first place? I would rather be blind and led by Him than allow myself to lead. I have tried to carve out my own path, but I have been painfully unsuccessful, and it is time that I allow God to make His way.

So, what is my next step? I am stepping out in faith, and to be quite honest, I am petrified. What I know to do is write. You will see a lot more blog posts from me. I will finish my book- I will make sure that all of this pain will be used for His glory. I am not sure what I will do financially, but I am faithful in knowing that God will provide me with some sort of income. I hope to start speaking at different places and churches again about God’s love, and I am going back to church regularly, because it is the one place I know I belong.

Yes- I quit today. But I quit my way.

Now it’s time for me to try God’s way.

“Remember not the former things, or consider the things of old. Behold, I AM doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Psalm 43:18-19

September is Coming

It’s been a long time since I have shared anything here, and there are several reasons because of it. First, let me say that this post probably won’t be hopeful. It might not be encouraging, and for that, I am sorry. I think it’s best for me to be as realistic about myself as possible, because I think that is the first step to healing. 

To be completely honest, I have not written in several months because I have been avoiding the large weight of grief that I carry from day to day. I have immersed myself in school, and although it is a productive means of avoidance, it has been my way of forgetting about what has happened to me this past year. It has been the bandaid that has covered the scar, so I do not have to deal with the reality that lies beneath. And while I love school, and I am thankful for the opportunity, I am afraid of what will happen once school is over. I am afraid of facing grief and the trauma I have experienced. 

I have experienced things over the past year that some people do not know and most likely will never know. I carry things that I wish I did not have to. After Jorre died, a piece of me died with him. I look in the mirror now, and I see a totally different person. Some say that I am strong, but more than anything, I feel defeated. I have told my mom many times that I feel completely torn and that I am a complete mess on the inside. What is frightening is that I do not know how to clean up the mess. I do not know how to pick up the pieces. 

Instead I have tried to ignore what has happened. I do not want to say that I have tried to forget, but I have tried to forget the pain and the wreckage. I have tried to pretend that I am okay, and honestly, I know I am not. 

Today I saw something while studying that reminded me of Jorre, and I broke. I cried, and I did not know how to ride it out. Today  is also August 27, 11 months since he passed and since my life completely changed. I was married, and now I am not. I was a football coach’s wife, and now I am not. I was a teacher, and now I am not. I was happy, and now I am not. 

And I know that I am more than a conquerer through Christ. I know that. But many times I do not feel that way. Many times I feel like I am going through the motions, putting one foot in front of the other. If I may be completely honest with you, I have not been to church in a long time. Mainly because I struggle sitting in the church that Jorre and I were married in. Some of my happiest memories are there in that building, I cannot bring myself to face them. 

I guess I am writing this post to feel better, to be as honest as I possibly can, to let go some of the weight. I feel ashamed that I am this way. I really do not know. I know many of you have prayed for me over the past year, and I ask that you still do, because next month will be the worst when I have to relive that awful Tuesday that Jorre died. September is coming, and I am dreading it with all my being. 

I need your prayers, and I love you all. 

Rise Above

After I registered for summer classes today, I went out to Jorre’s grave. I wanted to tell him about my new journey that I have embarked on, and as I stood there, staring at his picture, I began feeling a bit… angry. 

I have said that I have dealt with anger before after his death, but when I feel those angry feelings crop up, I am surprised every time; for some reason, I felt as though I would be immune to anger, that it would by pass me as if I were someone special. 

I am not angry with God- let me be clear. I have never been angry with the Lord; rather, I am thankful for His presence in my life because without Him, I would not have survived the loss. I am angry because at times, I feel as though I have been robbed. I feel as though I have been robbed of a life that I truly believed would last- robbed of a happy marriage, robbed of the possibility of children, robbed of a career. And then I wonder- with whom am I angry?I have a difficult time answering that question because I simply do not know. But nevertheless, I am angry, and it hurts. 

The truth is, being angry during grief does nothing but rob me of my grief. It disrupts my ability to go to Jorre’s grave and be able to appreciate the good memories that I have with him. Anger acts as a boomerang: I catapult myself forward with the hope of moving forward, but anger does nothing but snatch me backwards. 

But God, as He always does, revealed Himself to me in very specific ways today through my anger. The first revelation was through a Facebook post I made in 2013. It was a scripture from Ephesians 4:31-32, 5:1:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Talk about an immediate attitude check. 
Sometimes we can pinpoint who hurt us, and sometimes we cannot. Sometimes the situation hurts more than the person. Sometimes, we are just wronged. We are wronged without any repayment for that wrong. It is like when someone you love passes away; you cannot bring them back, and nothing you do can alleviate the pain. 

Sometimes, the wrong cannot be taken back, and nothing we can do can alleviate the pain. 

But that is when we must rise above. 
This is what God was saying to me through this verse, “Rise above.” 

Rise above the bitterness. Rise above malice. Rise above the anger. Rise above and forgive. If there is not SOMEONE to forgive, then forgive the SITUATION. Forgiveness is a catharsis- it is a cleansing of one’s soul and it begins the healing process. Forgiveness opens the door to love, not necessarily love for a person or for a situation, but love for ourselves. We must forgive in the same way that Christ forgave us, because Christ is love. 

And then, God decided to bring this verse to life for me today. He showed me what it means to walk IN love, just like the verse. 

A beautiful soul named Jessica blessed me with a gift. We do not know each other very well; we are Facebook friends, and she works at the local pharmacy. I see her often when I pick up medications with my mom. Out of the kindness of her heart, she had a canvas made for me that said, “Though she be but little, she is fierce,” and a bracelet with Jeremiah 29:11 inscribed on it. 

God used her to show me what walking in love meant. It means loving people, even people that you may not know well, wholeheartedly. It means showing them love and supporting them during times of need. And little did she know that canvas was another word from God that pertained to what He had been speaking to me today:

Someone may have made you feel small. A situation may have shrunk your confidence and self-love. You may be but little right now, but you are FIERCE. Be fierce with your anger through Christ. Be fierce with the enemy through His strength. 

Stand toe to toe with the devil, and do not back down (those are Jessica’s words- not mine).  

Remember that anger, depression, rejection, hatred, disappointment, and sorrow are weapons formed against you in a spiritual battle, and the Word says that no weapon formed against you shall prosper. 
Remember who you are in Christ. 

Rise above. 

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Proverbs 31:25

Beating Grief

There comes a day. 

When you lose someone, there comes a day when you wake up and realize that it is no longer two- it is only you. 

The past two months, I have awoken to this day. I have realized that I have been lounging in grief and have allowed it to deter me from living life. As time has passed, clarity has become more clear, and I have understood a fundamental fact that has pushed me forward: that Jorre is no longer here, and even though the pain lingers, I have the choice to refuse to linger within the pain. 

This epiphany is painful within itself. It has been easy to allow the past to dictate my life, it is even easier than putting one foot in front of the other and pushing myself forward. Grief becomes comfortable. It becomes a cushion between you and the hardest part of overcoming the hurt: moving forward. But I am learning that grief is no longer a cushion; rather, it is like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. It hinders what has been left after the other half is gone- me. 

Beating grief is not easy. It is an active effort on a daily basis. It is learning to enjoy life again, regardless of the loss of the life you had before. Beating grief is getting dressed on a daily basis. It is having lunch with friends. It is hearing yourself truly laugh for the first time in months. It is going to a friend’s gender reveal party for her new baby. Beating grief is denying its power to stifle your future and deciding to go back to school. 

It is actively choosing to no longer underestimate yourself and believe that you are, in fact, still alive. 

And it is an active process within itself. It takes time, and time is not hasty. I still have days when I cry, days when I question difficult aspects of my loss, days when I become afraid of failure. But what happens when you fail? I have asked myself that question many times, and I come to the same conclusion that I came to when I lost my husband: you pick yourself up, and you try again. Grief cannot beat you- you can only beat yourself. 

You may not be dealing with grief specifically, but you are probably dealing with something difficult. We all encounter mountains that are seemingly impossible to overcome. No mountain is impossible to climb; all it takes to conquer it is one foot in front of the other. It takes faith- not only faith in yourself, but faith in a loving God. 

Adversity cannot beat you, but you can beat yourself. 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5

-Lex

The Great High Priest

Sometimes it’s hard to face how we feel. 

Oftentimes, we feel alone in our situations. We feel that whatever difficulty we are facing, others are unfamiliar with the struggle, and we assume that people could never understand how we feel during those struggles. 

This is true- to an extent. 

I know that no one will ever truly know how I feel in the loss of my husband. Even those who have lost a spouse may not know exactly how I feel because we all grieve differently. Every loss is different- whether it be the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, the loss of a job, the loss of health, the loss of a relationship, the loss of trust- loss is loss and pain is pain, but each pain and each loss is unique to each individual. 

Sometimes, I cannot completely explain how I feel. I long to share my feelings with others, but I find it difficult to do so. I cannot adequately relay the loneliness that I feel to another person, and I cannot explain the weight of grief to those that I love. Jorre’s death has created the illusion that although those that I love constantly surround me, I still feel as though I am the only person in the world. This feeling creates a distance between me, my family and my friends; it creates a gulf, with me standing on one shore, desperate for connectivity, while everyone else is on another, living their lives, their worlds still turning while mine remains stagnant. 

But God reminds me that we are never alone in our grief and our struggles, no matter how lonely and distant we may feel. 

If you read through the Old Testament in the Bible, you will learn that God appointed one man as the high priest for the Israelites. This man’s primary function was to go before God on behalf of the people and seek counsel and forgiveness in His holy presence. In fact, he was the only man allowed to enter the presence of God, and no one else had the privilege to do so. 

The high priest performed his most important role during the Day of Atonement which happened once every year. During this day, the high priest offered a sacrifice for himself and for the Israelites in the Most Holy Place behind the veil, or the place where God’s presence dwelt. Although this was a day of forgiveness, it was also a day of uncertainty as man was not accustomed to being in the presence of God, high priest or not. If the high priest performed one aspect of the ceremony incorrectly, he would die, so the people who awaited outside of the tent would tie a rope to the high priest with a bell, and if the bell stopped ringing, they knew that he had passed in the Almighty’s presence. 

His significance lies within the fact that he was human- he was a man, prone to the same struggles that plagued his peers, whether it was the temptation of sin or the frustrations of life, he could sympathize with the people of Israel and understand their plight because he too experienced those things to one degree or another. This was an essential part of his priesthood, because the people knew that he could go before God, empathizing and sympathizing with them and the heartaches that they faced. 

But being that he was human, he could not truly understand the grief, trials and tribulations that each person faced. I am sure a sense of loneliness still lingered amongst the people; yes, the high priest had an idea of how they felt, but he could never fully understand the gravity of each individual situation. The gulf still existed. 

This is why Jesus’s work on the cross is critical. He is not only our Savior, but He is known as the great High Priest. He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice in the presence of the Father, offering forgiveness for our sins once and for all. Because of His sacrifice, the veil separating us from the Most Holy Place was torn, and now we have the opportunity to enter the presence of the Father on a daily basis through Jesus Christ because of His death on the cross. We will never have to tie a bell around our feet to enter the presence of God because we can freely enter His presence through His Son Jesus. 

What we often forget is that Jesus humbled Himself and became human, just like you and me. He came to this earth as a baby, He grew up as a child and became a young man. As a man He encountered the same trials and tribulations that we face on a day to day basis, just like the high priest of the Old Testament. 

On the day that He went to the cross, He faced what we feel and more. A best friend betrayed Him. His closest friend denied Him. He was spat upon and ridiculed. He was beaten and flogged so badly that He was unrecognizable. He was forsaken in every way, and for a moment, while He hung on the cross, the Father forsook Him. And it was absolutely necessary- not for Him, but for us. 

On that day, the gulf between humanity and the Father disappeared, and the Son’s sacrifice on the cross bridged the gap. I truly believe that on that day, Jesus felt every single pain that we feel today. I believe that as He hung there, painfully dying, He said to Himself, “I must endure this pain, because one day, Alexis is going to lose her husband, and she needs me.” I believe that He saw each of our struggles, and He withstood the pain, knowing that His struggle would enable us to survive our own struggles. 

Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 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.” 

So we are not alone. Although others may not be able to truly understand the pain we go through, JESUS does. Why? Because He felt our pain as He was nailed to the cross, and He felt that pain so that He could truly understand our grief when we face the difficulties in life. Imagine, the God of the Universe, the Creator of the largest sun and the smallest particle, died for you, died so that when your pain is overwhelming and isolating, you will never be alone, because He has already been there, and He has already met you in your pain. 

We do not have to face how we feel in fear, because we have a great High Priest who will not allow us to face how we feel alone. 

Today I would like to encourage you to draw closer to Jesus. Know that we have a great High Priest in the presence of the Father, willing and able to help and defend us in our time of need. Draw near to Him in confidence, knowing that He is equipped to understand you when no one can. Know that only HE can ease your pain because He died for it. 

“He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not. 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.” Isaiah 53:3-5

-Lex