We change our attitude by reflecting on reality
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16
Last year, Disney Pixar came out with a movie called Inside Out where producers and animation specialists invited our imaginations to dive into the heart of every child and come to realize the variety and complexity of our emotions. The story portrayed the emotional responses from within a young girl as she grew into more complex and multifaceted emotions through one life-changing experience. The film personified Joy with a persistent desire for controlling the center console of the girl’s mind, but in the end Joy and Sadness work the center console together enabling the girl to lead a more emotionally complex life.
So it is with our emotions. We experience a wide range of emotion which can expand and develop our capacity for other emotions. God designed us to be able to feel happiness even in our tears – experiencing joy and sadness in the same moment. They aren’t mutually exclusive. But how? For the girl in the film, joy resulted from receiving comfort from those she loved. How about for us? Ryan reminded us on Sunday that at the crux of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he says, “Therefore, in view of God’s mercy…” (Romans 12:1). Paul calls his reader to gaze upon God’s mercy and to realize God’s love and grace is now our truest reality.
Now, in the depth of our frustration, misery, grief or despair, we don’t change our attitude by trying to change our attitude. We change our attitude by reflecting on reality. When can gaze upon God’s mercy, we remind ourselves of God’s love. But, sometimes simply gazing on God’s general mercy isn’t personal enough. In these times, we must turn to Jesus to “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Why? Because Jesus sympathizes. He knows what it’s like to be human and to feel what we feel. This is God’s mercy. He gave us his Son to know how we feel, to sit with us in our pain and to empathize with us. When we turn to Jesus, we can experience the joy of a shared moment from receiving comfort from someone we love.
Pray for someone today who might benefit from sitting with Jesus in their pain. If possible, send them an encouraging note or text to remind them of God’s love and Jesus’ ability to sympathize with them.
By Yvonne Biel