and with his stripes we are healed
I’d much rather think about God as a baby taking his first breath born in a stable than a dying man breathing his last on a cross. I didn’t grow up in churches with crucifixes, so didn’t dwell on the wounds inflicted on a bleeding and suffering God. Instead, the empty cross represented a symbol of hope: death defeated.
But there can be no victory without the wounds, without the bloodshed and without the death. And there is no victory without a baby born of blood amid the waste and squalor of a dark cave meant to house animals. Mine can be no sterile faith immune from all the messiness of human anguish, sorrow and pain in a fallen and sinful world. His skin shed real blood. His cries echoed the agony we feel when abandoned and forsaken.
Sitting in a packed church today among hundreds mourning the sudden and incomprehensible loss of a sister in Christ, I knew there were many broken and bleeding hearts in that sanctuary. We were all struggling with the dichotomy of our faith: we struggle to express joy when confronted with the harsh reality of the grave, we know God’s purpose is not always knowable yet we express confidence in His sovereign plan, we acknowledge His timing is different than our timing yet we live as though we have forever on earth, we have seen His love is strongest when we are hurting and need comforting yet we don’t want to appear that we need it.
Beyond the beautiful hymns, the scriptural assurances and the floral arrangements, we were desperate for the tender mercies that can come only from a bleeding God. He understands how badly the hurt feels and how anguished is our cry.
And so as he reaches out to share our pain, man to man, God to man, we are restored. Our wounds must be exposed, the bleeding for all to see, in order for everlasting healing to take place.