Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why Would You Do That to Me?!

        I remember the moment quite vividly.  A few short months after Caroline was born, we were sitting in the exam room at her pediatrician's office for a check-up and vaccinations.  This particular morning, Caroline was her typical cheery self (as long as we kept her belly full), and the well check-up went smoothly.  But, then it happened!  The nurse came into the room with a tray carrying a few syringes for Caroline's boosters.  Obviously Caroline was completely in the dark about what was about to happen, but she was soon to be made aware.  The nurse routinely prepared each shot, and alcohol swab and laid them each out carefully in preparation for the event that she somehow anticipated was in our near future.  It's almost as if she had done this before and could see the writing on the wall.    Believe it or not, children (nor their parents I might add) enjoy the feeling of sharp metal being thrust into their meaty flesh with the force of a speeding bullet.  (Yes, I'm exaggerating.....just go with it!)  So, the nurse proceeded in swabbing the spot on Caroline's plump little thigh and grabbed the needle.

       I have always felt that we learn best from messing something up.  In fact, when dealing with working on cars, or any home improvement project (please don't ask my wife about the latter subject), I have always felt that if you really mess something up you will never forget how to do it again.  While this is true, it is in the first months of our earthly life that we learn the most about the world around us.  Hot, cold, happy, sad, what tastes good, what doesn't, etc.  Even how to perform basic daily functions like walking and talking we learn in the first few years of our existence.  This was one of those times for Caroline.  As the nurse plunged the needle into Caroline's thigh, every nerve in that location of her leg sent a message to her brain of pain.  It was in that moment that I made eye contact with her.  I saw in her face a look of pain, confusion, and fear all at once. It's easy to dismiss these sensations when we have experienced them so often as to the point that a simple shot from our physician seems commonplace.  But for Caroline, this was a first, and she was not a fan.  If she could have spoken, I believe her words would have been, "Why would you do that to me?!"
       I remember in that moment a sudden feeling of despair and helplessness and it broke my heart.  I am her father, and it is my responsibility to care for her, provide for her, love her, and most importantly protect her.  This was a pain that I could not protect her from, a pain that I could not take away no matter how much I wanted to.  
        We serve a God that never, in any circumstance, desires for God's children to hurt.  While we do in fact live in a world that contains within it forces that are at the very least contrary to God, God never causes us to hurt.  God is a God of reconciliation and fulfillment, not of pain.  Personally, I have never understood how one can find comfort in believing that God would orchestrate, or cause hurt and pain in our life.  These things happen in our life because we live in a fallen world, more times than not, they are the result of our choices or the choices of others around us.  And...when they do happen, it is God grieving with us and for us as well.  God never desires for us to hurt.

       So, what do we do then with Good Friday?  Well, we could easily find ourselves in a heated theological debate as to whether or not God meticulously planned out all of the events surrounding Jesus' earthly ministry, death and resurrection.... Or, we can spend our time in these last days of Lent celebrating the hope we find in the reconciling act of our Redeemer.

       Yes, Jesus did in fact suffer and die, and was indeed resurrected!  This is the great truth of reconciliation and fulfillment of our God.  Paul tells us that it was a death and punishment in our place, to satisfy the impossible coexistence of our holy God, and a fallen world.  And, I might add, that in that moment that Jesus took his last breath, scripture gives us a few examples that God was grieving as well.

        As we approach this Good Friday and Lent comes to a close, spend some time in prayer and thanksgiving for the reconciling, redeeming, fulfilling act of our Creator.  I will leave you with these words from our Savior:

"...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world!"

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