You're recounting an amazing feat you accomplished or a spectacular sight you've seen, thinking how impressed your listeners must be, when suddenly, someone says something that instantly deflates your ego like a pin popping a balloon: "Been there. Done that." It's the ultimate put-down line, informing you that what you saw or did wasn't that amazing or unique. Others have seen or done similar or greater things.
If anyone has the right to say, "Been there. Done that," it would be Jesus. Although he is God from all eternity, a little over 2,000 years ago, he took on human flesh and blood. Heaven is his throne; earth is his footstool. Yet he exchanged that glory for life as a humble man. His first bed was a feeding trough. He worked as a humble carpenter. He knew pain and rejection, sorrow and frustration. When he died, the only possessions he had were the clothes on his back, which he was promptly stripped of as soldiers gambled for them.
There is no challenge we could face, sorrow we could experience, pain we could suffer that Jesus hasn't already gone through. He's truly "been there, done that." Hebrews chapter four puts it this way: "He was tempted in every way, just as we are, yet was without sin."
So what does that mean for us? I believe we all have the tendency to think that the problems we face and challenges we encounter are unique to us. No one else has ever experienced what we experience. Therefore, no one can completely understand or relate to us. That's perhaps especially true when it comes to our attitude toward God. "What could he possibly know about trying to earn a living in a tough economy?" we might think. "How would he know what it's like to have a loved one die?" "What does God know about being betrayed and alone?"
Such attitudes lead to a less-than-robust prayer life. Why pray to distant, aloof God who doesn't understand us and cannot sympathize with us? But that's hardly the case. God's Son has truly been there, done that. He can indeed relate to our problems. He most certainly does sympathize with our needs. But not only can Jesus sympathize with us, he can do something about our problems. You see, he isn't just our brother, who has experienced everything we go through; he is also our Lord, who has the ability to answer our prayers and help us, no matter how big or how small the problems we face are. Later on in that same chapter of Hebrews, the writer goes on to encourage us by saying, "Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."
"Been there. Done that." When it comes to Jesus, that's hardly a put-down line. Instead, it's the ultimate build-up line.
- Brent Merten is pastor of Mountain Valley Lutheran Church, 802 Brush Creek Terrace, Eagle.