Hebrews 4:15 – For 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.
Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Sometimes the concepts in these verses get separated, and we forget their amazing connection. The One who now dispenses grace and mercy from the universe’s throne struggled with the same human weaknesses which we experience!
Jesus Christ suffered and then became the perfect liason between God’s resources and our needs. He was tested, and mastered every type of battle – physical, emotional, relational and spiritual. Yet He did not seek out suffering, in fact He sought to avoid the agony of the cross. He’s felt the sting of man’s rejection. He was misunderstood, judged, and publicly humiliated. He knows what it’s like to cry out to the Father yet feel forsaken.
So with hard-earned sympathy, Jesus offers help, His grace, which is a supernatural ability to cope. He wants to be with us, and carry us through our battles. He is not some distant Monarch, but a tender Shepherd who guides and strengthens.
In addition to grace, He offers mercy. Unlike Jesus, I have not always handled suffering well. During my battle with advanced Stage IV metastatic melanoma, I complained, raged, and wallowed in self-pity. I was often frustrated that I could not handle the battle. Though He knew my sins and weaknesses, He continued to plead, “Don’t let the past stop you from seeking My help now.” This is mercy. He forgives if we approach through Jesus Christ’s work on the cross, not our own works (more on His forgiveness here).
In the end, His grace and mercy are “sufficient,” enabling us to weather impossible circumstances. He took on our substantial weakness, so we could partake of His incredible strength. So let’s boldly ask and expect Him to help in our time of need!