For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
— Hebrews 4:15–16
The last one and a half years have been a bear for me spiritually. I mean one tough slog. I started off looking for direction after my volunteer job went away with the onset of COVID. I never could have imagined where my search would lead. I pretty quickly realized that whatever God had next for me was for a person I had not yet become. As I did a lot of reading and approached God in silence and listened, I discovered I was a person with some of the qualities I most detested. I was needy and ironically both prideful and possessing a deep sense of basic unworthiness. Coming face to face with these weaknesses in me was some of the most brutal work I’ve ever done, and it was freeing and healing.
We don’t know all of the temptations to weakness that Jesus faced. He certainly didn’t have every single human experience that could be had, but we know a little about the gamut of emotions he faced. We know that he experienced the denial and betrayal of two of his closest friends, Peter (Matthew 22:34 and 54–62) and Judas (Matthew 26:21–25). I’ve wondered if he was tempted to feel pride, and when I think of Jesus as a twelve year old boy conversing with rabbis, and displaying unusual understanding (Luke 2:42–47), I think he might have faced that temptation. Jesus felt grief (John 11:1–36), desperation and fear (Matthew 26:36–44), and abandonment by God (Matthew 27:46). So when we come to this High Priest of ours, we can have confidence that even if the situational specifics are different from ours, he knows what we feel and he responds with the mercy and grace that we need.
It can be terrifying to admit our weaknesses to God and ourselves. However, they lose their power over us when with God’s help we name them and present them to God for his hearing and his healing. I’ve pretty much stopped looking for a direction from God, and am now focused on responding to what he has done and is doing in me and for me. I am focusing on becoming the person he is enabling me to be, one who, aware of the gifts of mercy and grace that I have received, passes those same blessings on to others who need them too.