Many of us, in our most woebegone moments, like to think that we and our sorrows are unique in world history. No one understands me. Draped elegantly in sackcloth, we wander our internal wasteland convinced that we are beyond comfort or repair.
I do, anyway. And I’m not even an angsty teenager anymore. A touch of Byronic broodiness just makes us all feel important, doesn’t it?
Of course, that sense of isolation is often legitimate: I don’t mean to downplay the sorrow of living in a cursed world. Our trials are all too real. But even then! Even then, we cannot dare say that no one understands me . . . for Jesus too was alone. He knew the wilderness, if anyone did. When you wish for someone who can share your deepest pain, sufficiently sympathize with your confusion and darkness, just look at the Christ: willingly ripped from his rightful place in Creation, misinterpreted and undermined for his entire life, and finally, abandoned by his Father in the midst of the most agonized humiliation.
I remember where Psalm 27 says, speaking of God’s steadfast love, “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” The psalmist has such reassurance, such confidence that even after the most hurtful human desertion he can think of– his own parents rejecting him– he’ll still have a refuge.
And then I think, for Jesus not even that was true, for the Lord turned his back at Calvary.
So no wilderness is truly barren for us. Our savior and brother Jesus experienced solitude on a cosmic scale, despair in the most searing terms. He knows exactly how we feel, and more.
And in any case, “here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”