Have you ever felt like giving up in life or thought you were not able to go on? Or felt like you were not able to handle one more thing? Or thought if one more negative thing happened in your life you were going to lose it? Have you ever thought you could not tackle another situation or simply did not want to? Have you ever been so disappointed in people that the hurt and sadness engulfed you? Or felt so overwhelmed with your inability to change things you were paralyzed? Perhaps you have reached that point when you have no words left to describe how you feel. You are just so empty you do not even know how you got to this place. These feelings of crisis can leave a person emotionally and spiritually paralyzed, comatose, or even dead to all that brings life!
If you have not experienced these kinds of feelings, you will, as long as you are human. There are times no matter how “together” we are life seems to unravel and we discover just how “not” together we are. The more often we experience these feelings and times the more prone we are to fall into a fatalistic mindset, nearly incapable of carrying on normal activities. If we ignore the feelings they eventually build, then wash over and crush us. If we focus on ourselves incessantly these feelings are magnified and beat down on us. We must face them and go through yet that is much easier said than done.
At the core of all these feelings is the “temptation” to call it quits. Because we live in a disposable society we sometimes unknowingly have this notion within that if it is too hard, too disappointing, too overwhelming, then we can and should just get rid of it. The path leading to these crossroads in life is filled with other people and situations including issues of faith, church, work, school, family, finances, friends, and health. It would be a quick and easy solution if we could simply purge our lives of all people and situations that create disappointment, negativity, sadness, challenges, or effort. Unfortunately, many people try to take this elimination route and end up more frustrated and lonely. Because we are powerless to control or change other people and situations we often give in to the temptation to stop walking and trying. Knowing there will be these times does not make it any easier to navigate through life. Disposing of people, situations, jobs, churches, or education is probably not going to alleviate the pain and heaviness. The solution is found in knowing “Someone” went through similar things and is able to help us as we pass through, making the journey bearable.
Jesus is that “Someone” and He is more than able to help us in every area of our lives to every extent possible. There is nothing that surprises Him, nothing He has not Himself been tempted in, and nothing He cannot subdue. He is able to aid us in overcoming anything and everything and He lives to make intercession for us. He prays on our behalf to resist the temptation to give up or give in. He is able!!! The answer lies in knowing how Jesus is able to help us!
In Hebrews 7:25 we are told just how able He is! “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” The Greek word for “able” is “dynamai” which conveys the truth that God has the power by virtue of His own will, ability, and resources to do something for us. He needs nothing outside of Himself to save us and He owns everything He needs! This knowledge along with recognizing who He is able to save, gives us the courage and eagerness to keep going and trusting He who is able. Jesus is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him. Our part is to go to God and then He is able to save us. Could He save us if we do not come to Him? Because He is an all powerful God He could if that was His will. But He is a God of His word and He reveals His will throughout Scripture. He chooses to be a God of relationship and He desires we come to Him. When we go to Him all things become new. Our inability to rescue ourselves releases His “ableness” to save us!
Another crucial reality which can erase despair and restore hope is to know what and how far “uttermost” reaches. By understanding the height, depth, width, and length of this salvation we are given even more confidence in His ability not only to get us through but more importantly, to “save” us. The “uttermost” refers to “completeness, the state of being all complete, or perfection”! He is able to save to the most complete state of perfection! Nothing lacking and nothing missing! We cannot nor should not limit this “saving” to eternal life in heaven. It is true that Jesus saves us through His death on the cross and resurrection, through the forgiveness of our sins, and it is true He is the only way to heaven. We praise Him for His “ableness” in saving us! But the fact that He “always lives” to make intercession for those who come to Him reveals salvation is much broader than simply going to heaven when we die a physical death. Jesus is always and forever our faithful High Priest. He is completely able to save us in every moment of time, at every place, and in all things. He is able to save us from ourselves, problems, situations, and temptations. He is able and willing to be involved with every aspect of our lives. It is vital to know, accept, and believe He does not just save us to heaven, but he saves us from everything that moves us away from completeness in Him; those times of feeling overwhelmed, of wanting to give up, feelings of failure and hopelessness. These are all included in the things He is able to save to the uttermost when we go to Him.
We see the “ableness” of God again in Hebrews 2:17-18 “Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For in that, He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” In ourselves it is impossible to be faithful to the things pertaining to God which is why in ALL things Jesus was made like us so that He could appease His Father on our behalf. He made propitiation for the sins of the people (including us) so that we might live in harmony with our heavenly Father. Jesus literally has filled the gap that would have continued to exist between us and God because of sin had He not in mercy and faithfulness suffered, died, rose, and lives today. Jesus suffered when He made propitiation or won the favor of God. Making propitiation means He appeased or satisfied the need of His Father for us to be forgiven by paying for our sins. Jesus in His love, faithfulness, and mercy was obedient to His Father. We must be forever grateful for His sacrifice.
As part of that sacrifice Jesus was tempted! As a result He is able to aid those who are tempted. Temptation in this context is speaking of struggles in the journey of faith. Earlier I said at the core of our “points of no return” is the temptation to give up in faith. Every living person has faith in something; and this faith keeps them going from day to day. When that faith is shaken the desire and drive to keep going dwindles and can cease to exist if something does not happen to strengthen faith. The problem arises when we put our faith in anything that can be shaken; in those people or things that are “not able”. We are told in the Word that anything that can be shaken will be. Hebrews 12:27-29 “Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.”
Some people have faith in themselves, in others, in things, or in other gods. These will all be shaken! Christians are to have faith in a living, all-powerful God who is a consuming fire. He will consume all those things that presently try to overwhelm and overburden us. Every Christian alive will experience times when their faith in God feels shaken. But the truth is when we serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, when we have received the kingdom of heaven into our lives, our faith is one thing that cannot be shaken and will remain – no matter how difficult and hopeless our circumstances appear to be! Now THAT is good news! It is the difference between what we feel and what we know.
When we determine that at the core of our struggles is the temptation to give up in our faith voyage we will allow Jesus to help us as we are tempted. Often times when we define temptation we only include our struggle with overt sins such as sexual misconduct, gossip, lying, slander, abusing drugs and alcohol, or refusing to forgive, just to name a few. Those may very well be real temptations for us but at the core of sin is the temptation to give up on God when suffering or confused, to give in to fear, and to stop standing in faith.
This explains why it is so important that we understand the “root” of our feelings of brokenness, despair, paralyzation, and hopelessness resides in the temptation to stop living in Christ. This root of temptation entertains fear and doubt concerning our faith in God. We can know the truth which sets us free but we will still face the temptation to believe and live in the facts about our circumstances. If we are honest with ourselves, the temptation to believe facts over truth shakes the very foundation of our lives. When we give in to this temptation it results in whining, sadness, anger, bitterness, doubt, despair, and an unwillingness to trust God and His Word. However, this temptation to leave behind our faith in God is exactly what Jesus is able to help us with.
Jesus was tempted! In the Greek language this means that evils were inflicted upon Him in order to prove His character and the steadfastness of His faith towards His Father. We know that God does not “tempt” us – at least according to our understanding of tempting. We like to say God “tests” us because He wants to strengthen and grow us. But this Greek definition for “tempt” is very much like our perception of testing, literally to inflict suffering in order to prove steadfastness of faith. This does not mean God was “tempting” His Son to sin. But in order for Jesus to aid us when we are tempted He needed to be tempted in His faith journey. There is validity in His ability to help us in our faith journey when we understand He has suffered with the same temptations. Jesus has compassion for us because He knows what it feels like. He can both sympathize and empathize with us in all tenderness. Jesus knows how to endure and overcome temptation thus is able to help us endure and overcome. Jesus grew weary of temptation and the trouble it caused His mind, will, and emotions. We become weary of the constant onslaught of temptation troubling our souls! Jesus did not sin but He did suffer, endure, and conquer every temptation. Today, we sin but because of His sacrifice we are forgiven. We suffer and endure temptation, and we need His help to conquer it!
As we spend more time comprehending the fact Jesus was tempted in every way yet never sinned, we can soak in the revelation that we too can overcome anything and everything that seems to be overwhelming us this day. Jesus never gave in to the temptation to give up, turn back, discard people or throw away His faith in His loving Father even though He was tempted in every way to do just that. Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Take note again of our part – go boldly to the throne of grace; it is there we grab hold of mercy and locate the freedom from temptation to help us in our time of need. Earlier we read our part is to go to Him and He is able to save us. Again, we are reminded to go to Him! Our natural inclination when we are in a state of discouragement, depression, sadness, or despair is to run “from” God. But when we run “to” Him we find help in our times of temptation.
Remember it is a “journey” of faith. When taking journeys there is always opportunity to turn back, quit, or determine it is not worth the pain, sacrifice, and risk of continuing. But we have a Helper! His Name is Jesus! When we hit that crossroad of crisis – go to Jesus! He is able to help you! This journey eventually ends in heaven. But until that time we have Jesus who always lives to make intercession for us – to stand in the gap for us! The temptation to give up will always exist here on earth but He is able to help those who are tempted!