God Holds Our Sorrows
Though Isaiah prophesied about Jesus 700 years before Jesus was born, and though he prophesied about Jesus’ death over a hundred years before the invention of crucifixion, Isaiah provides a gruesomely accurate picture of the physical nature of Jesus’ crucifixion in Isaiah 53:4-6.
He speaks of Jesus being “pierced for our transgressions.” Dr. Paul Brand elaborates, “Roman executioners drove their spikes through the wrist, right through the carpel tunnel that houses finger-controlling tendons and the median nerve. It is impossible to force a spike there without maiming the hand into a claw shape. And Jesus had no anesthetic as his hands were marred and destroyed. Later, his weight hung from them, tearing more tissue, releasing more blood. Has there ever been a more helpless image than that of the Son of God hanging paralyzed from a tree?
And Isaiah speaks of Jesus being “crushed for our iniquities.” Dr. Cahleen Shrier explains, “As Jesus hangs on the cross, the weight of his body pulls down on the diaphragm and the air moves into his lungs and remains there. Jesus must push up on his nailed feet (causing more pain) to exhale…. The difficulty surrounding exhalation leads to a slow form of suffocation. Carbon dioxide builds up in the blood, resulting in a high level of carbonic acid in the blood. The body responds instinctively, triggering the desire to breathe. At the same time, the heart beats faster to circulate available oxygen. The decreased oxygen (due to the difficulty in exhaling) causes damage to the tissues and the capillaries begin leaking watery fluid from the blood into the tissues. This results in a build-up of fluid around the heart and lungs. The collapsing lungs, failing heart, dehydration, and the inability to get sufficient oxygen to the tissues essentially suffocate the victim.”
Isaiah also provides a wonderfully accurate understanding of the theological nature of Jesus’ crucifixion in these verses.
Isaiah tells us that “the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all,” and he tells us that he “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” In other words, Jesus died for our sins (the bad things we have done), and in his death he took up our sorrows (the sinful and bad things done to us). These are two distinct theological issues that point to the different ways in which God handles our sins and our hurts.
What does God do with our sins? Micah 7:19 informs us that God “will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” Psalm 51:1 & 9 express that God will “blot out all my transgressions/blot out all my iniquity.” Psalm 51:2 adds that God will “wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” And Psalm 103:12 declares, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Consistently throughout Scripture, sin is described as something God gets rid of—something God eradicates so that He does not have to look upon it any longer.
But God handles our sorrows in a very different way. Rather than getting rid of them, God picks them up and carries them. God holds our pain close to His heart. In John 11:35 we find Jesus weeping with those who were grieving. In Psalm 56:8 we are told that God puts our tears in His bottle. Psalm 34:18 assures us that God is “close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 147:3 adds, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” And 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 describes God as “the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles.”
The knowledge that God does not remove our sorrows like He does with our sins, informs us that there can be something redemptive in our sorrows, and it assures us that we will never be left alone in our sorrows but rather that God will pick up our sorrows and hold them close to His heart as He holds us close to Him in the midst of our pain.