I will never forget the unshackling power of these words: “Jesus knows what it’s like.” In the most agonizing moment of our lives, our dear friends reminded us that our Savior understands crippling sorrow.

After learning our son’s fatal diagnosis, we had been presented with the decision to terminate the pregnancy or carry to term. We were not simply spectators of our son’s imminent death but forced participants, expected to choose how it would happen. Either path would end in devastation that would scar us forever.

This terrifying decision paralyzed us.

The stories we read of couples in similar circumstances seemed to have strength that we had not been given. Their willing resilience made us feel even weaker. Shame pulled us further into the darkness as we feared how others might criticize our paralysis. I could hear the potential accusations piling up on either side, further isolating us in the shadows. The freedom to choose had enslaved us and our inability to decide had shackled us with guilt.

But our friends’ words cut through the darkness. “Jesus knows what it’s like.” We were terrified. We were paralyzed. But we were not alone.

This promise turned our tearful gaze to Gethsemane, a scene that we remember especially this week as Easter approaches.

Gethsemane shows us that Jesus knows what it’s like to stumble along the path of suffering. His march to the cross was not preceded by a triumphant battle cry, but by great distress. He knows what it’s like to be stifled by the weight of despair, asking for another way before he surrendered to the Father’s will. Jesus knows what it’s like to cry out in anguish while staring into the darkness ahead.

Jesus knows what it’s like. His trembling grace empowers us to put aside the delusion of strength and embrace our weakness and need.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16