One of the hardest parts of being a pastor is that you get to know many of the heartaches and sorrows of the people in your church. In a sense, their pain becomes your pain. And you want to fix it for them, but you know that many times you can’t.
There’s the husband fighting cancer. The young couple who are devastated with infertility. The family that was just ripped apart by divorce. The senior saint who recently buried their spouse after fifty plus years of marriage. The father who just lost his job. The single mother struggling to keep food on the table for her children.
The list gets long and it weighs on the pastor.
It is inevitable that people will suffer.
It is also a privilege to be taken into people’s lives and trusted with their heartaches and trials. You know that even if you can’t fix every problem that comes to you, you can hold them up before the throne of immense grace.
It’s not that pastors don’t want to know, it’s just that they care – sometimes too much.
And then I think of Mary at the Cross.
Can you imagine her heartache? The son that she gave birth to; the boy she raised; the young man she watched as he grew into a man destined to shake the world. And now he has been accused of treason, arrested, beaten to within an inch of his life, publicly humiliated and he’s hanging on a cross bloody and bowed.
This wasn’t just her son – he was her Messiah, her Savior. He has been lied about, tortured, rejected, and crucified like a common criminal. A piece of trash to be thrown out.
And she has had to stand by and watch it all happen . . . and could do nothing about it.
Mary at the Cross has experienced more pain, more sorrow, more heartache than we will ever know. She is the ultimate sufferer.
Not that it helps my pain, but it does say to me, you are not alone. There have been others and there will yet be others who will suffer in ways that are hard to even imagine.
The Apostle Paul understood this when he penned the words, No temptation (trial) has overtaken you except such as is common to man (1 Corinthians 10:13). Common to man. Common among men. Our pain is not unique.
The writer of Hebrews reminds us that most of us have not struggled to the point of shedding our blood – perhaps a metaphor for death or martyrdom (Hebrews 12:4). We have suffered but we have not died.
We have suffered but not in ways that others have suffered. We can’t even begin to compare to Mary’s suffering.
Mary at the Cross is a lesson for us; an example; a paradigm of grace. She suffered the ultimate suffering in silence, committing herself to a faithful creator (1 Peter 4:19).
Sometimes that is all that we can do.
And it is enough.
Stay in the Word