“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
It’s a compulsion. An insatiable need to be the best, the smartest, the fastest, the first.
So, when choosing books at the end of the day, she stressed over whether anyone else had a higher reading level.
It was tragic when the girls in her reading group lost the spelling competition to the two boys.
There were the races at recess, how many beads they had earned for their Accelerated Reader necklaces in library, and who was on the highest level math timed test.
For weeks, I gave my daughter profound words of Momly wisdom. “You don’t always have to be the best, babe. You just have to try your hardest and that is always good enough. Don’t worry about anyone else. You are smart and capable and you should be proud of what you can do and be thankful for the way God has made you.”
She would nod, hug me and then run off to play, seemingly receiving the full weight of my words.
But no matter how good my speeches were, they didn’t really change her–even the ones I felt could have been scripted into TV sitcom about a perfect mom in one of those heart-to-heart mother-daughter moments.
She still felt both compelled and destroyed by competition.
Then there was the day when I finally looked at her and said, “I get it. I know what it’s like. I have spent most of my life feeling like I needed to be the best, the fastest, the smartest, the most capable, the most responsible, the kindest, and just generally the most perfect person there is. And I am telling you now that doing your best is good enough and that you need to be comfortable as you.”
She looked back at me a little befuddled, as if it never occurred to her that maybe this neurotic need to be perfect was genetic. And while her character didn’t change in a revolutionary moment, she seemed to listen more closely to what I had to say.
Because I have been there. I have lived that. I do actually know what I’m talking about.
In the same way, it comforts me somehow to know that when Jesus asks me to endure, to be patient, to withstand trials and suffering, to love my enemies, to speak truth, and to show love, that He knows what He’s talking about.
Eugene Peterson wrote:
“Lord Jesus Christ, how grateful I am that You have entered the arena of suffering and hurt and evil. If all I had were words spoken from a quiet hillside, I would not have what I needed most — Your victory over the worst, Your presence in time of need.”
Jesus could have preached “Blessed are the merciful and the meek and the pure in heart” for His entire ministry. Those messages would have been challenging and beautiful, but lacking in impact.
Thankfully, He didn’t stop there. He showed mercy. He displayed meekness, even choosing to intercede for those crucifying Him as He labored to breathe on the cross. His heart remained pure, even as Satan tempted Him in the desert.
Jesus didn’t just say it; He lived it.
That’s why the writer of Hebrews reminds us that:
For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:17-18).
How precious is Christ’s mercy for us! He never stands poised from a throne of judgment, hurling down condemnation at us for messing it up sometimes or falling short of perfect every day.
He is a merciful High Priest, who bends down low and helps us overcome.
In the same way, Jesus asks us to do more than just make speeches at people and proclaim truth. He asks us to live it and then share it.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (1 Corinthians 1:3-4).
So, when we share with someone what it’s like to overcome the sin of gossip, it’s because we ourselves have been there and done that.
When we watch a stressed out young mom’s children, it’s because someone watched our little ones for us.
As we place our arm around the woman diagnosed with breast cancer, as we make a meal for a new widow, as we sip coffee across from the wife who’s husband says, “I don’t love you anymore,” we give to them the same comfort we received in our own lives.
Jesus asks us to live it and then share it. That’s what He Himself has done for us.
What comfort has Christ given to you that you need to share with someone else?
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.