Divine Sympathy!Divine Sympathy!
(John MacDuff, "The Rainbow in the Clouds")
"I know their sorrows!" Exodus 3:7
These are God's own words! Man cannot say so. There are many sensitive fibers in the soul, which the best and tenderest human sympathy cannot touch. But the Prince of Sufferers, He who led the way in the path of sorrow, "knows our frame."
When crushing bereavement lies like ice on the heart — when the dearest earthly friend cannot enter into the peculiarities of our grief — Jesus can! Jesus does! He who once bore my sins — also carried my sorrows. That eye, now on the throne — was once dim with weeping!
Israel had long groaned under bondage. God appeared not to know it — or, if He did know it — not to care. He seemed, like Baal, to be "asleep". Yet at that very moment — His pitying eye was yearningly beholding His enslaved people. It was then that He said, "I know their sorrows!"
Just so, He may seem at times thus to forget and forsake us — leaving us to utter the plaintive cry, "Has God forgotten to be gracious?" When all the while, He is bending over us in tenderest love. He often allows our needs to reach their extremity — that He may stretch forth His supporting hand, and reveal the plenitude of His grace! "You can see how the Lord was kind to Job at the end — for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy!" James 5:11
And God fully "knowing" our sorrows — is a blessed guarantee that none will be sent, but those which He sees to be needful. "I will not," says He, "make a full end of you — but I will correct you in measure." Jeremiah 30:11
All the trials which He sends — are precisely meted out — and wisely apportioned. There is nothing accidental or random or unnecessary — no excess thorn — no superfluous pang!
"You keep track of all my sorrows! You have collected all my tears in Your bottle! You have recorded each one in Your book!" Psalm 56:8. Each one is counted and recorded — drop by drop — tear by tear! Tears are sacred things among the treasures of God!
Suffering believer, the iron may have entered deeply into your soul; yet rejoice! Jesus, a sorrowing, sympathizing Jesus — "knows" your aching pangs and burning tears, and He will "come down to deliver you!"
And of this divine sympathy, we are also assured in the New Testament, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tested in every way, just as we are!" Hebrews 4:15. What an elevating truth! We have the Sympathy of the God-Man-Mediator in our sorrows! What a source of exalted joy, to the stripped and desolate heart! What a green pasture to lie down upon, amid the windy storm and tempest, or in the dark and cloudy day!
The sympathy of man is cheering and comforting — but "thus far shall you go, and no farther." Man's sympathy is finite — limited — and often selfish! There are nameless and numberless sorrows on earth, which are far beyond the reach of all human alleviation!
The sympathy of Jesus alone, is . . .
removed from all taint of selfishness!
Jesus has Himself passed through every experience of woe. There are no depths of sorrow or anguish into which I can be plunged — but His everlasting arms are lower still! He has been called "The great sympathetic nerve of His Church, over which the afflictions and oppressions, and sufferings of His people continually pass!"
Child of Sorrow! A human heart beats on Heaven's Throne — and He has your name written on that heart! He cares for you as if no other claimed His regard — as if you were the only object of His care!
He "has been tested in every way, just as we are!" Blessed assurance! I never can know a sorrow into which the "Man of Sorrow" cannot enter. Ah rather, in the midst of earth's most lacerating trials — let me listen to the unanswerable challenge from the lips of a suffering Savior, "Was there ever any sorrow, like unto My sorrow!" Yet He willingly drank the cup of wrath! He did not shrink back from the appointed cross! And even when He hung upon the bitter tree — He refused the sour wine which would have assuaged the rage of thirst and mitigated physical suffering.
Are we tempted at times to murmur under God's afflicting hand? "Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart!" Shall we hesitate to bear any cross which our Lord and Master sees fit to lay upon us — when we think of the infinitely weightier Cross He so meekly and willingly carried for us?
Jesus has some wise and gracious purpose in every mysterious chastisement. His language is, "Hear the rod — and Him who has appointed it!" Micah 6:9. He has too kind and loving a heart — to cause us one needless or superfluous pang to His redeemed children!