My left thumb has been my friend from the day I was born. He was very useful for sucking in the early days and I’ve depended on him for so much over the years. Washing, dressing, eating, catching, he’s been helpful in so many ways. For the past few years he’s been a little unwell with osteoarthritis but nothing too bad, until last night. For no discernible reason he started to hurt, a constant throbbing that kept me awake and continues as I write, so I’m not feeling very fond of him. It’s the worst pain by far that I’ve experienced in either hand but despite my current antipathy towards him it’s made me realise how good he’s been to me and how much I need him.

Friends can be like that. They’ve been there with us and have been a great help, but for some reason pain enters the relationship. It has the potential to overwhelm and make us forget the good things and why the person is a friend in the first place, so like with my thumb it’s helpful to think afresh about the good things and why you became friends in the first place. I need my thumb despite its pain and we all need friends. I’m doing what I can to ease the pain in my thumb by smearing it in an ibuprofen ointment. There’s no ointment to heal a friendship but there is love. Jesus loves us and proved it by dying for us and he wants us to show a sacrificial love to each other. It may not be easy but we need to persevere to heal the pain. One smearing of ointment is not enough. Here ends lesson 1!

Lesson 2 is about pain. I don’t want or expect sympathy for my pain. It’s just a thumb after all, the rest of me is perfectly fine. My pain doesn’t compare with friends of mine who live with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and endometriosis, all of them extremely painful and life changing. I can’t begin to understand the pain they endure which can be overwhelming with no relief. Pain dominates their lives. I can’t understand it but Jesus can.

The pain Jesus endured in his life was short term but it was overwhelming. It came at what was supposed to be the end of his life, starting with a slap across the face and ending with his crucifixion. His suffering was so gruesome I’m not going to mention it. What I will do is add a list of Bible verses at the end of this blog which you can refer to in your own time, but be prepared to be shocked. What men did to him was horrendous.

One verse I will quote is found in the Old Testament in the book of Lamentations, chapter 1 verse 12, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look around and see. Is any suffering like my suffering that was inflicted on me, that the LORD brought on me in the day of his fierce anger?” Apart from the extent of the suffering, what makes it so horrific is that Jesus was crucified by his enemies, the same enemies Jesus was dying for. Romans 5:8 says, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We are all sinners and a sinner is by nature an enemy of God, our choice as we rejected God. He still sent his Son to die for us.

What also makes his suffering so bad is that it was inflicted upon him by God himself, the Father of Jesus. Jesus experienced his Father’s anger voluntarily because he knew it was either him or us. God who is perfect must punish sin and so his fierce anger awaits us all, except those who recognise that Jesus died in their place. In that case the punishment and anger are transferred from us onto Jesus.

I’m at the end of my blog and my left thumb is still throbbing but there’s no need for you to give it a second thought. Please though, don’t forget about Jesus and his suffering. He endured it for you, he died for you and he also rose from the dead for you. He’s waiting for you to trust him at which point you will know God’s salvation and will be freed from the expectation of God’s anger. Instead you can enjoy a life with Jesus both now and for ever.

 

Bible References:

  • Psalm 22:1-18
  • Psalm 69:1-21
  • Isaiah 53:1-9
  • Isaiah 50:6
  • Matthew 26:67,68
  • Matthew 27:26-44
  • Luke 22:63-65
  • John 19:1-3