March 23

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death. . . . —Hebrews 2:14 (NIV)

In 1969, at the age of fifteen, I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. Only a handful of people, even among the medical professionals I encountered, had even heard of this baffling disorder. Fewer still could pronounce it, adding to the aloneness and shame I felt. Throughout my teenage and young adult years, I never met anyone who could understand the pain, disfigurement and uncertainty I faced.

Then, thankfully, public-awareness campaigns began to change things. I'll never forget the fall afternoon when I was waiting at the baggage-claim area at the Detroit airport and a billboard with bold white letters printed against a black background caught my eye. "Neuro-fibro-ma-to-sis," it read. "Think it's hard to say? Try living with it."

All at once the fear and isolation that had been my lifelong companions were replaced with the most incredibly comforting feeling: Someone had walked in my shoes and knew exactly how I felt.

For me, that's one of the most compelling messages of Holy Week. The Savior of the world became man so that He could identify with the trials and temptations and, yes, even the questions, of us human beings. When we're burdened with sorrow, care, pain or guilt, He's there with a compassion our earthly loved ones can never equal, waiting to carry our load.

Your struggles are likely very different from mine, but His promise is for you as well: Christ wants to meet you at the point of your pain. Please join me in the week ahead as I recall some of the times He's done just that for me.

Lord, no experience in my life is beyond the reach of Your love. Help me to cast my cares on You.

—Roberta Messner