Scars and a Story to Tell
Our hearts are heavy once again as reports come in. The latest in a long list of human pain. Each one sharing similarities and each one unique. Today, we share in Oklahoma's pain. It's our pain too. Lives lost. Homes shattered. Spouses and parents and brothers and sisters torn apart. Pain. Lots of pain. Along with misery, grief, anguish and heartache.
Everyone goes through pain. That's why we can all relate. And yet we know deep down there will be healing, someday. Not yet, but someday. The pain will subside. There will be scars and a story to tell. Back in the late 1970's I was the fastest at Downey High School in the 880 (aka 800 meters today). Two grueling laps around the track. You run the first lap as fast as you think you can, then you run the second lap faster. I was in a race once at El Rancho High School in Pico Rivera. It was League prelims. I'm in second place coming into the home stretch. All of the sudden the guy in third place pushes me out of the way and I trip. You know that moment when you know you are falling and its slow motion? Bad fall. I hit the ground face first and he runs over me. His sharp track spikes rip into my right leg. I get up and finish the race, not realizing what had just happened, but there is blood all over and I'm in pain. Big pain. He gets disqualified but there would be no league finals for me. Instead, I get 17 stiches and a story to tell.
One night when I was 42, I couldn’t sleep because of a sharp pain under my rib cage. I felt lousy and thought I was going to throw up. It was a weird, sharp pain I’d never felt before. Nausea set in. Maybe it was indigestion, or the flu. It wouldn’t go away. I got in my car and drove myself to the emergency room. I felt like I was going to die. After sitting there for about two hours because I wasn't dying, I gave up and drove to another hospital. It was around 2 am. By that time I was in so much pain I could barely think straight. Whatever I said got me right in to see a triage nurse. By 6 am they figured out it was my appendix. By midmorning that day I was in surgery having an emergency appendectomy. Out of all that pain I got a two-inch scar and a story to tell.
In both those instances, as a teenager and as a 42-year-old, I went through intense pain and the only lasting glory was my scars and a story to tell. God's glory in Christ is so far richer. Jesus went to the cross knowing the immeasurable pain He would endure, the scars He would receive, so that we would have life and a story to tell. We go out into the world, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, carrying the Word of God that tells the gospel story of the grace of God in Christ. We compassionately take that gospel to people under the wrath of God due to their sin; people who are experiencing pain due to the Fall every day of their journey on earth. We point them "to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). Want to hear more? Keep reading in Hebrews 12, beginning at verse 3. Then keep going on into James, chapters 1-5. Go all the way to the end of the Bible. Then read everything else in the Bible. I'm serious about it. What you will see is Jesus, the One whose scars bought every believer's freedom and inspires their glad desire to tell the story of eternal life in Him to all who will listen.
Every pain is not the same. The one's I've experienced are nothing compared to what others have endured. What I intend to do every day is this: worship God by preaching the gospel, making disciples and sacrificially serving Jesus, taking every opportunity to tell the story God gave me to tell. I do so with sensitivity, not knowing everyone's pain but knowing everyone has backstory and there is a time for everything. Some pains call for putting on your work boots and pitching in; others call for sitting in silence with the grieving, not saying a word. Nonetheless, every pain calls for Jesus, so I will find a way to tell the story of Christ's pain and glory because it speaks to every human situation. Pain is a part of every life and God gives believers in Christ an amazing story to tell.