I Get It Because I’ve Been There
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18
Working in addiction medicine, I meet a lot of patients with PTSD, often from traumatic events as a child. If I dig into their story, I usually hear about physical or sexual abuse, neglect, and horrible living conditions. Those suffering from PTSD have frequent flashbacks, anxiety, and nightmares. I’ve read about PTSD. I know what treatments can help PTSD. But I don’t have PTSD. So, when someone explains their symptoms to me, they can tell that I don’t have it. You just don’t get it. This doesn’t mean I can’t treat those with PTSD. It’s absurd to expect that a physician must experience every malady he treats. It does mean though, that I don’t have that experiential connection with those suffering from PTSD.
It’s very different however when it comes to addiction. I’ve been there. I can say, I know what it’s like to hate myself for all the stupid choices I’ve made. I know what it’s like to be enslaved. Having been there makes an instant connection with the patient. Because he knows I’ve been there, that patient trusts me. Hopefully, it makes me a better physician and helps me know how to better treat the patient.
Though he didn’t experience drug addiction, today’s passage tells us that Jesus knew what it was like to be a human and that he experienced the same temptations that we do. In the passage, the author of Hebrews explained that Christ had to become like us so that he would become a merciful priest, providing propitiation for our sins. Jesus was a man and, as such, experienced the common temptations of lust, pride, greed, anger, resentment, gluttony, jealousy, and disobedience. In Christ, we have a savior who’s walked in our shoes and knows what it’s like to be us. He’s been there and he’s suffered more than we have.
There’s a couple of applications here. First, we should find comfort in the knowledge that Jesus knows what it’s like. We’re not alone and because of him, we can find peace, joy, and hope in a relationship with a God who loves us more than anyone else ever will. Second, we can and should use our own experiences to help those around us. It’s no accident that I work in addiction medicine. I do so because I’ve been there. Often, God desires to use us to help those who’ve struggled as we have. It’s a powerful thing to be able to say, I’ve been there. Our past may be painful, but often, God can use it for good if we allow him to do so.