Not Alone, Sorrow-Known
By Anthony Casperson
When it comes to dealing with struggles of depression, anxiety, and the like, there’s often an additional difficulty that people suffer. We look at the people around us and think that everyone else seems to have it together, or at least isn’t as bad off as we are. The idea that no one else deals with what we struggle makes us think there’s something wrong with us.
We tell ourselves that no one else will understand, they never could. We remove ourselves from social situations so that others won’t discover our “dirty little secret.” We allow those lies to drive us ever deeper into the darkness.
But the truth of the matter is that other people struggle just like we do. The exact situation is likely different, but there’s enough commonality that we don’t have to feel alone in the darkness of sorrow. Those who know sorrow are not alone.
As we continue this holiday season where the darkness of the night finds its zenith, this truth is needed all the more. We’ve been looking at how Jesus relates to us in our depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more. And though we often forget, Jesus is one who has come to know, and be known by, sorrow. He’s even called a “man of sorrow.”
Isaiah 52:13-53:12, known as “the suffering servant passage,” gives prophetic details about the crucifixion, showing the more graphic nature of the event. Verse 14 tells us that his appearance would no longer look human. He was beaten so badly that he hardly even looked human anymore. The events surrounding the cross disfigured him before hammer ever struck nail.
Isaiah 53:2 prophesies about Jesus’ life in general, telling us that even before the disfigurement Jesus wasn’t some chiseled runway model. It wasn’t (and will never be) about dashing good looks that caused people to follow him. Most people would never have even look twice at him, even considering him a nobody.
And even though we know according to the gospels that thousands followed Jesus, we can see that there were still thousands more who would roll their eyes and shake their heads at the mention of his name. Isaiah 53:3 says that the suffering servant of God would be held in contempt by many and thought nothing but a passing fad.
Rejected, despised, reviled, he existed as a man who knew sorrow, a man who lived amidst suffering. People turned the other way when they came near him. They considered him to hold little value.
Sometimes our reading of the gospels makes us think of Jesus as a celebrity with fangirls screaming how much they love him. But we forget that to many more he was “one of those hucksters,” a rebel leader stirring up trouble with the Roman government.
Thousands followed him, but only because he would heal them and feed them. Once the flood of food dried up and following him meant a difficult life, people abandoned him by the hundreds. After the crucifixion, his devoted followers could fit in a single room. And 50 days later, before the Spirit came down like fire on the day of Pentecost, their number was 120. Jesus certainly knew what it was to have fickle followers.
The rest of Isaiah 53 continues to prophesy about Jesus’ taking on our sin, suffering for us. Every crack of the whip, and every ring of nail hammered into wood brings freedom and healing to millions. The pain and suffering brought life to us. It wasn’t needless.
It allowed God to experience suffering in the most painful way. He took it on, choosing to suffer for us. When we suffer anguish and pain, when tears rain down our faces, when grief wells up in us, we join the ranks of the sorrow-known. And for those of us who follow Jesus, that legion marches to bring life, hope, and healing to all who suffer.
Don’t buy the statement that you’re alone when you come face to face with sorrow. Don’t let the darkness perpetuate the lonely lie. Our struggle though this season and beyond doesn’t make us weak, or wrong, or worthless. The God of the universe experienced being sorrow-known as well, and it brought about the greatest act of love ever known.