A blog by Josh Humbert
So, our normal isn’t normal anymore. And maybe it never was normal anyway. What I would “normally” write about in these spaces is going to change for a while.
I have three criteria I try to build any of my posts around. If you’re curious, I want whatever I write to: highlight the greatness of Jesus, be compelling/worth your time, and come from a place of passion. That’s it. I feel if I hit those three elements, I have something I can post.
Those three things won’t change, but perhaps some of the content will. I will be having more pieces that explore what we are finding out through this whole process. In a sense, more personal, I guess you could say. I still plan to get to my normal content (faith and film, culture, Biblical stories, etc) but hang with me as I do some other things too. Cool? Cool.
As we make our way through Jessica’s journey with cancer, there have been some truly amazing things take place. What she and I have seen from our church and friends, what we have seen in her treatment, and what we have seen in the smallest “insignificant” details have revealed to us the hand of God.
He is with us and was preparing for this all along.
This caught us by total surprise. We had no clue what was about to show up on our doorstep. But…that is not so with God. He knew what was coming and He wonderfully directed our path and some key decisions this past year.
I find my trust in Him only growing more and more through this time. What I knew of Him before (God is wise, sovereign, good, etc), has now been enhanced and solidified. Through the process of this trial, the doctrines I had long known in my head sunk further into my heart, where they became a deep enjoyment to me.
He is with us and He is worthy of all our trust.
Throughout these months there has been one truth in particular that I have come to love more than ever before. It’s not anything new or unique. This simple truth has been cherished by other Christians for centuries.
However, this truth is what separates Christianity from everything else. When you examine every other belief-system or religion, this one truth puts Christianity in a category totally of it’s own.
What has brought me comfort and joy and what makes Christianity distinct is this: I worship a God who has scars.
I believe Jesus Christ is exactly who He repeatedly claimed to be (the Son of God, God in the flesh, etc), and I believe He did exactly what He repeatedly said He would do (die for sin, literally raise from the grave three days later). I believe God, through the person and work of Jesus Christ, came down here to earth to save sinners through the shedding of His own blood. And one day, when I see Him face to face…I will see for myself the scars of God. The results of His own suffering.
The pain of life can prompt many questions. How you view the world determines how you answer these questions.
If there is no god and this whole existence is just a cosmic accident, then the answers to suffering you have are brutal and untenable. Those “answers” don’t really answer anything and they betray what we know of this life.
If God exists and this whole existence means something, then the answers are not easy…but they are real and available. The answers may very well be partial (in this life), but they are enough. They meet reality head-on and they ring true with what we know of this life.
In Christ, we have the single best Answer of all time. He gives the most beautiful and helpful response to suffering that human history will ever witness: He choose to enter pain in the fullest and conquer it to the uttermost.
His scars are the proof.
“The fact that Jesus came to earth where He suffered and died does not remove pain from our lives. But it does show that God did not sit idly by and watch us suffer in isolation. He became one of us. Thus, in Jesus, God gives us an up-close and personal look at His response to human suffering. All our questions about God and suffering should be filtered through what we know about Jesus.” —Philip Yancey, “Where is God When It Hurts?”
I don’t worship a god who keeps himself from harm. I don’t worship a god who says suffering is just to be avoided or escaped. I don’t worship a god who says that pain has no benefit. I don’t worship a god who just wants me to be happy with health, wealth, and prosperity here on earth. I don’t worship a god who exempts himself from the reality of human existence and the trials of this life. A god or gods like that could NEVER be enough for me in the midst of the storms of life. Those answers don’t satisfy, not in the least.
Jesus is the One who makes the difference.
In Jesus, I see God choosing to get personally involved with me, though I surely don’t deserve it! In Jesus, I see God willing to embrace suffering in a radical way. In Jesus, I see God bringing redemption out of immensely dark misery.
In the scars of God, I see that He knows what this feels like. His love isn’t theoretical. It’s not mere concepts, philosophies or empty religious rules. It’s not just talk. The scars of God show me the realest love I’ve ever known. He has been here. He truly is God with us.
One man who understood the helpfulness of God’s suffering and what it means for every believer is a man named Edward Shillito. As he saw the violence of World War I, he came face-to-face with savage pain and brutal suffering. In response, he composed a poem that stands the test of time.
In four short verses, he gives a magnificent statement on the uniqueness of Christ. The last verse in particular is stunning in it’s eloquence, accuracy, and efficiency. This is his poem, “Jesus of the Scars”:
If we have never sought, we seek Thee now;
Thine eyes burn through the dark, our only stars;
We must have sight of thorn-pricks on Thy brow,
We must have Thee, O Jesus of the Scars.
The heavens frighten us; they are too calm;
In all the universe we have no place.
Our wounds are hurting us; where is the balm?
Lord Jesus, by Thy scars, we claim Thy grace.
If, when the doors are shut, Thou drawest near,
Only reveal those hands, that side of Thine;
We know today what wounds are, have no fear,
Show us Thy scars, we know the countersign.
The other gods were strong; but Thou was weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.
In a way, your life on earth began with a scar. When the doctor cut the cord between you and your mother, you had your first wound that would need to heal. This “scar” is now what you probably call your belly button. Maybe it’s a signifier that this life isn’t going to be perfect. Maybe it’s to remind you that in this world, you will have trouble.
Maybe you’ve collected a few more scars as the years have gone by. Perhaps some are still hurting or slowly healing. Who knows the stories of your scars? Who can you trust with your scars? Who can handle them?
“But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.”
There is One who is intimately familiar with scars. He knows yours and He knows mine. He knows how every single scar came to be. And remarkably…He has His own.
He is the one worthy of your trust. You can talk with Him about pain. He is the God who knows what you are facing. One day, you can look upon the scars of God and know why He is able to wipe all yours away. His hands, His feet, His side…the scars of Jesus show the price He has paid so that you can be made new.
I worship a God who has scars. What a sweet and glorious truth this is.
As always, thanks for reading. Your comments and insights are always welcome. If you like this, share it, tweet it, pin it or pass it on.
(all artwork is from Rein Poortvliet. Gifted with a pencil.)