Do you sometimes feel like you’re all alone? That there’s no one who really cares or understands what you’re going through?
But those “feelings” are a lie.
In the very last verses of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus commissions His disciples to go and spread the Good News (28:19-20) wherever they could, teaching people that Jesus was indeed who He said He was, and that there is hope to everyone who receives His teachings.
But the very last sentence of verse 20 is so very, very important. What does it say?
And be sure of this; I am with you always, even to the end of the age.
(NLT – emphasis mine.)
Did you catch those specific words?
Years ago I read a devotional put out by a beautiful, hilarious woman named Barbara Johnson who used to speak at the Women of Faith conferences prior to her death around 2007. Barbara knew the meaning of trials and hurts.
Barbara’s husband had suffered through a debilitating accident, one of her sons died in Vietnam, and then a second son was killed in an auto accident. To top matters off, their third son announced he was gay, which years ago just wasn’t a topic you dealt with much!
Barbara’s life at times felt like it was spiraling over the edge, but her faith was strong – she knew she needed to hold on.
So she focuses on Matthew 28:20, and then wrote in her devotional that we need to always remember that Jesus knows just how you feel. He knows what it’s like to feel such heartache that you think you’re going to die.
But does He really?
Take a look at Matthew 26:38. Here we see Jesus with His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his crucifixion. He knows what’s going to happen soon, and He’s over the edge with pain and grief:
My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.
(NLT – emphasis mine.)
But what did His disciples do? They fell asleep – not once, not twice, but three times (26:40-45)!
Here is Jesus, their friend, confidant and teacher – whom they claim to love wholeheartedly – pleading with them to stay awake with him to keep watch, and not one of them were able to keep their eyes open. They virtually left Him crying all alone…
And then, when Jesus was arrested and taken away to be tried, beaten and killed on the basis of nothing but lies, what did His disciples do? They all deserted Him and ran away (26:56).
As I was contemplating all of this, it brought back when our little boy Matthew died suddenly when he was 2 years-old. The pain during that time was raw and excruciating – you really felt like you wanted to die.
But Jesus was there with us and He understood! Because He also had experienced sorrow to the point of wanting to die – it says so right in Matthew 26:38!
Jesus also experienced the lonesomeness that you feel when you really don’t have anyone to talk to – no friendly faces were before Him as He was tried and beaten in the mock court proceedings. His best friends, the people He had hung out with for a couple of years, had all deserted Him when He was arrested. They were scared so they took off.
What must it have been like as He was flogged repeatedly, and there was no one around who could even cry with Him?
Our perspective is so important, isn’t it? By reminding ourselves of the things that our Jesus went through while He was on the earth, you can certainly know that He is able to comfort us always.
Just yesterday morning, I received an email from someone I love dearly. This loved one declared that he no longer wanted any contact with me whatsoever. I was heartbroken and very distraught – the tears were there. But then I remembered Matthew 28:20, and I cried out to Jesus.
And? He was right there with me, comforting me and reminding me that this time on earth experiencing pain and sorrow is temporary. Someday the hurts will be gone forever (Revelation 21:4) – it’s a promise!
So on those days when you feel like you’re dying inside, take heart. Cry out to God who is always there. He understands your pain and turmoil – He’s been through more than you or I can even imagine.