Fully Man and Fully God

One of the great wrestles of my faith is the belief that Jesus came to this world as both fully God and fully man. I believe it, but it is one of the pieces of the Gospel that requires me to fully rely on faith, for my brain will never wrap around it.

I have spent much of my life believing that my anxiety is a sin. That, because Jesus tells me not to worry and have faith, when I become anxious, it is because of my lack of faith. And yet, didn’t Jesus, being fully man, experience anxiety in his body like so few men ever have before?

I grew up thinking (and I point a finger at no one because I fear it may be a belief I came to on my own) that when we read of Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and sweating drops of blood, it was a metaphor. And yet, as an adult, I have learned of a medical condition where the body goes into such extreme anxiety that the brain releases chemicals, causing the capillaries to break down the sweat glands. This wouldn’t allow for rushing of blood, dripping down his brow, but small droplets. Sweat, tinged with blood.

My Lord, being fully God, knew the suffering he was about to face, being fully man. His body, acted as a human body created by God, should do, to relieve pressure.

When I am told Jesus faced every hardship, temptation, suffering that man could face, I am sometimes tempted to think that couldn’t possibly be true. And yet, here is proof that he did. I am never alone in my suffering. While our circumstances differ in many ways, Jesus faced grief, betrayal, abuse, abandonment, and the worst anxiety one could experience.

As much comfort as I take in knowing that Jesus was fully man, it is that he is fully God that brings me the most relief. Being fully God, knowing what he was about to face, feeling the anxiety in his body, he still allowed guards to take him into custody. He still stood before a mock trial. He still took a sentence of a criminal when he had never committed a single sin. He allowed his body to be whipped, tortured, and nailed to a cross. All this because his love for me was so great.

Jesus, fully man and fully God, faced sin and death, looked them in the face, and conquered them.

None of this excuses me to wallow in worry or fret. No; what this does is allow me to go to Jesus and hand over my worries, because he has already conquered them. It allows me to trust that he sees the bigger picture, knows what is to come, and that I am held in his hands.

And it frees me from shame when my body acts in a fight or flight reaction, when adrenaline releases and I shake, when my chest clinches tight in anxiety so great I think I might die. Because this body, a body made by God, a body that functions like my Lord Jesus’ body, knows what to do to warn me of impending danger, relieve pressure, and remind me to call on God to give me peace.

In fact, everything about Jesus’ death and resurrection frees me from shame. He took all my sin to the cross – the sins I have committed and the sins committed against me. When Jesus looks at me, he doesn’t see my wrongdoings, my scars, my history. Jesus looks at me and sees that I have been washed clean by the blood of his wounds. He sees me as a precious, whole, beautiful child of God. Fully forgiven.

A Saturday to Grieve

Several years ago, maybe 12 or so, I stood before the students at my church and gave my testimony. There was probably 100 people in the room; a mix of middle school and high school students along with adult leaders. I spoke with a timid heart and a quivering voice. Speaking in front of crowds was still a new and uncomfortable venture for me and the subject matter was rough. I told them of the heartache I endured when my dad left. I shared the pain of watching my mom descend into depression. And my tears fell hot as I told them of her suicide.

But I also told them of God’s faithfulness. I told them how the tears still fell sometimes and that there were days when the pain was so heavy that I wasn’t sure I could take a breath under the weight of it all but that God would remind me how to breathe. I told them that I believed there is no pain in life so great that God hadn’t felt; that he understood grief on the deepest level because he watched his own son take on the sin of the world as he hung on the cross.

While telling my story was hard, I had a burning in me to make people understand that it was more than a sad story. It was a story of healing, ongoing as it may be. It was a story of hope because God didn’t let me die in my grief and abandonment.

When I finished I was met by kids and adult who hugged me, assuring me that telling my story was the right thing to do. They thanked me and reminded me that ¬†God wasn’t finished with me yet.

And then there was one. A lady from the back of the room waited for the crowd to disperse a bit. Her face was tight and she had a forced half smile. She walked up to me and took my hands and told me that I needed more faith. She told me my tears showed my unbelief and that if I could only find it within myself to trust in God he would take away my grief. She said that if I really believed my mom was a Christian then I should be rejoicing that she’s in heaven and no longer suffering from the mental illness that Satan put upon her when my dad left.

And it is only because I stood there with my church employee name tag declaring me Tamara Lexow – Student Ministry that I didn’t claw her eyes out.

Along with other areas of healing, God has worked on my anger since then.

I think about that woman a lot. I especially think about her on days like today. This morning marks twenty years since my mom died. Twenty years is a long time to hurt and it’s a long time to heal and yet here I am, doing both.

This week has been particularly hard, with this anniversary falling on Holy Week, a week that generally wrecks my heart anyway. But this morning I can not help but think about those followers of Jesus. The men and women who had been faithful believers that he was really was the Son of God followed him for three years. They’d hung on his every word, allowed his touch to heal their bodies and their souls, and witnessed miracles like they’d never seen or imagined before. They listened to his stories, learned how to pray, and shared God’s promises coming to fruition before their very eyes.

And then they watched him die.


Did anyone walk up to them and tell them that if they’d only had a little more faith he wouldn’t have had to die? Did they question all they knew; all they had seen? I can only imagine the pain, the frustration, the exhaustion they felt on that Saturday between. The abandonment, the confusion, the loss was surely hanging over them like a wet, wool blanket. He had told them he would rise but did they get it? On that Saturday, as they sat in their pain, did they have faith?

What I wanted to say to that woman that morning that I couldn’t say because my anger was choking me was that it is only because of my faith that I was standing before her, allowing her condescending words to pierce me. It was only because God’s love for me was so great that I could stand up and tell of his goodness and his healing. It was only because His Spirit would sometimes whisper, “Breathe, Tamara” that I could take my next breath when ignorant people like her wanted to tell me what my faith should look like.

On that Saturday, one day after they watched him die and yet one day before they would realize that death could not hold him, Jesus’ friends had to have a glimmer of hope. They might not have called it hope but there was something there. They couldn’t have known what it would look like but so many of them had a tiny seed of faith that he really was who he said he was. How would he pull through?

I have days when I feel grief overwhelm me (yes, even after all these years) and I draw strength from that same glimmer of hope. That same hope that lived within the friends of Jesus lives in me.

There has to be more.

This can’t be it.

One day I will see my mom again. One day I’ll hold her hand and touch her face. One day I’ll introduce her to my children. One day there will be no more pain, no more suffering. One day we will all be together and no one will decide to leave. One day Jesus will take his followers and we will not ever shed another tear.

I can have that hope because of what his friends didn’t fully grasp that ¬†Saturday. They didn’t know that he was taking the sin of the world to the pit of hell and dropping it at the door. They didn’t know that his body was being restored and that they would see him again in all his beauty. They didn’t understand how soon they would see him again. And yet they hoped.

Today I hope, too.