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Your Affliction is His Affliction

by Thor Ramsey

In all their affliction he was afflicted,

and the angel of his presence saved them;

in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;

he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

-- Isaiah 63:9

One of the most comforting things about Good Friday is that our Savior knows what it's like to be one of His frail creatures. He knows our weak frame and state of mind. But even now, when we are afflicted, when we are troubled, it is true to say that He is also afflicted and troubled. When King David wrote that God knows our frame, he meant God knows exactly what we're struggling with and how we feel. And God is not only empathetic, but He has also experienced affliction and sorrow. That's why He's afflicted when we are, because He knows what it's like.

Many of us struggle with this aspect of God -- a God of sympathy. Somehow, we think that because He is God that He is above such things, our mere human troubles. The old preacher, A.W. Tozer put it this way:

"There never was a tear that He didn't shed, never a bitter disappointment that He didn't feel, never a grief that He didn't suffer, never a temptation that did not come to Him, never a critical situation with which He did not wrestle."

This section of Isaiah was a great reminder for me this week.

in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;

he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

When I first returned to the Lord around the age of thirty-one, I was in this emotionally hopeless dark internal hole of a place. If you've experienced depression or sorrow brought on by circumstances, you know in some fashion what that emotional place is like.

In that state of mind, one night I had this dream. The meaning will be obvious, but it wasn't obvious to me when I was dreaming it. In my dream, I was being carried by someone with my arms around his shoulders, my legs through his arms in that he-ain't-heavy-he's-my-brother kind of way. This someone is carrying me up this jagged, rocky mountain. I can't see the face of the person carrying me and, of course, in the dream I'm experiencing it as if in real time. So, I'm noticing the terrain and looking up the mountain and how far away the peak is before I even realize I'm being carried. Once I realize I'm being carried up this mountain, I realize it's Jesus carrying me. I never see His face in the dream, but I know it's Him. And then I wake up. But I awake feeling, well, there's no other way to say it -- uplifted.

Now, life went on and things improved emotionally, my wife and I grew spiritually, etc. But it occurred to me as I read this Scripture in Isaiah this week, nothing has changed. Even though I'm not in that same place emotionally and even though I may not feel like I'm being carried, the reality is -- He is still carrying me. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He doesn't change. If He had love and pity on His people then, He does now. If He carried His people then, He carries them now.

And that means you and me.

You may not feel like you're being carried, but He is carrying you. Whatever the mountain, He is carrying you. However cliché that sounds, the one thing I have found is that a cliché stops being a cliché when you experience it. Once you experience it, it is real. Footprints in the Sand is only corny if you've never felt carried by God.

Thankfully, we can know it today because God has revealed Himself as the God who carries us. Christ carried the cross up the hill of Golgotha in loving obedience to God His Father. And God the Father carried Christ in His humanity the same way He carries us in ours.

Your affliction is His affliction.

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