Knowing God can be quite uncomfortable, and it’s not totally safe. He reveals himself to us, but he also asks us to be honest with him. A few days ago, I read something that reminded me of this truth:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Hebrews 4:12-13
Typically, we don’t like to be fully seen. Fully known. When people ask us questions that go beyond the surface, we hesitate. We try to keep our image safe.
And I think that’s why these verses feel so threatening. Our defenses that work with other people don’t work with God. He sees it all: the thoughts we don’t tell anyone about, the attitudes we mask with our pretty words and smiles, and the motivations that lie under our kind actions. It’s all uncovered before his eyes.
When we read his Word, something happens in us, too. The Bible is living and active: it convicts, teaches, changes, and pierces. It points out harmful things that need to be changed, and insists that we take action.
“It [the Word of God] makes a soul that has long been proud, to be humble; and a perverse spirit, to be meek and obedient. Sinful habits, that are become as it were natural to the soul, and rooted deeply in it, are separated and cut off by this sword. . .The word will show the sinner all that is in his heart.” -Matthew Henry
Here we arrive at our first need: To be fully known for what we truly are.
Although conviction and change for the better is a good thing, I’m glad the passage doesn’t end there. That would leave all the will and power to change in my hands: which never works well. There is so much more to the picture!
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:14-15
Do you see that? Our God is not cold and accusatory, holding us to unfair standards. He’s quite the opposite! He became one of us, and experienced the very temptations, emotions, and hardships we experience. Jesus can empathize with our weaknesses without being puzzled or repulsed by them, because he gets it! This empathy fulfills our second need: To be precisely understood. In the very same moments that God sees the sin in our hearts, his heart goes out to us. He’s experienced it all.
Yet he did not sin. Jesus remained steady and holy throughout the pressures of this life, which means that we can look to him for help as well as empathy. Crying with a friend who empathizes with your struggles feels good, but talking to a friend who has victoriously come through those same struggles is helpful for moving on. And God fulfills this third need: To be saved from and carried through our struggles.
Only a God who knows the ins and outs of our hearts, empathizes with our struggles, and has a way to save us from them could fulfill our every need. And you know what? That’s exactly who our Savior is!
But how do we embrace this? How do we claim it? How can we step out of the shame of what we are not, and embrace the God who offers all that we need? Let’s look at the last verse in this chapter:
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Approach. All the grace and mercy we need for this life is found in Jesus alone, and he invites us to approach him confidently and ask for it! He is glad to give.
He sees. He understands, He saves.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!