For about eight months now, I’ve been dabbling in some amateur psychoanalysis – an unexpected, but fascinating perk of keeping a blog. For subjects, I have my readers (comprising, admittedly, a miniscule cross-section of the general blog-reading public) and for statistics, I have data indicating the number of “views” for each post.
Of all the topics I’ve addressed – music, technology, grammar, travel tips, motherhood, and more – I’ve found that the most widely-read posts have been the ones about seemingly commonplace experiences. Like changing after you’ve had children. Or being told that your problems are insignificant. Or feeling inadequate next to everybody around you.
Why do we – I include myself here because I am similarly drawn to such articles – feel so strongly compelled to read about experiences we’ve already had? We could be reading the news, or learning about an unfamiliar subject, or debating politics with strangers. Yet what draws many of us is what we already know.
I think – speaking, remember, as an unlicensed amateur psychologist – that what we want, more than almost anything, is to be understood. To know that our feelings are valid. To believe that somebody out there knows what it’s like to be us. Even if that somebody is a blogger, or author, we may never meet. We crave that reassurance: yes, it’s hard to be human. It’s okay. You’re not alone.
Want to know something awesome?
That’s exactly what Jesus does for us.
Have you ever thought about what it meant for Jesus to come as a baby? That when He chose to dwell among us, He didn’t pick the richest parents, the plushest accomodations, the best society? Philippians 2:6-7 describes exactly what it meant:
…although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant…
Jesus relinquished His right to exercise His full power and authority because He wanted to know what it was like to be us. He wasn’t a parent, but He knew how it felt to be exhausted and unappreciated. He may not have ever been picked last for the baseball team, but He experienced rejection. He spoke only the truth, but He knew what it was to be misunderstood, to have his words twisted and his motives questioned.
You may not be able to touch Jesus, or hear His voice, but He knows you better than any writer, or even any friend, who has shared your experiences. He loves you so much that He CHOSE to experience those things that make life on this earth so very hard so much of the time. We read in Hebrews 4:15 that “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
God, the Creator of galaxies, came as a helpless, needy baby because He loves us. The thought overwhelms me, takes my breath away. And He didn’t stop there. The next verse in Philippians shows us just how far He was willing to go in order to show His love for us:
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
The One who chose to experience rejection, pain, and grief — went on to die for the very people who had rejected Him. Who didn’t believe they even needed Him. And it’s the reason He came in the first place. In one of my favorite books, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey says this about Christ’s birth, life, and death here on earth:
“During that wrinkle in time known as the Incarnation, God experienced what it is like to be a human being. In thirty-three years on earth God’s Son learned about poverty and about family squabbles and social rejection and verbal abuse and betrayal…God’s Son had to encounter evil personally in a way that perfect deity had never encountered evil. He had to forgive sin by taking on our sin. He had to defeat death by dying. He had to learn sympathy for humans by becoming one…Because of the Incarnation, Hebrews implies, God hears our prayers in a new way, having lived here and having prayed as a weak and vulnerable human being.”
If you’ve ever wondered if somebody out there understands what you’re going through…Somebody does. And He loves you immensely. It’s why we celebrate Christmas. Because Jesus came to be one of us…to die for us…and, three days later, to live forever for all those who will receive Him.
What good news of great joy!