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January 27, 2011 / joelmalm

Wounded Soldiers

Struggling around the 300-year-old streets of Cusco with a limp has to be a challenge. The sidewalks are far from disabled- friendly. But there is a man I always saw there who managed to do it. I feel for his struggle and I always wonder what happened to his leg. Is it an injury from the tumultuous days of war here in Peru? Did it happen at work?

I imagine Jacob got a lot of questions about his limp. He probably got tired of no one believing him when he told the story. “I was in a wrestling match with God and he beat me up.” (Genesis 32) Pause and chuckle. “Sure Jacob. What really happened?”

Jacob walked around with a constant reminder of what happens when you start demanding blessings from the Eternal One. It comes at a price. God delights in blessing his children, but as A.W. Tozer points out, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Have you been hurt deeply by God? How did you handle it? Did you let it make you bitter? Did it make you trust him more?

“The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:5) If you have been hurt by God be of good cheer, it means you are loved. God’s goal in all he does is to bring glory to himself. He gets creative when it comes to revealing that glory to the world. The most common way he does it is through using us; weak, frail, flawed people. He lets our pain tell the story.

“There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made.” (Edgar Allen Poe) Human suffering stirs the emotions of even the hardest heart. Pain is universal and it speaks to us all. Could this be why God so often uses pain as his spokesperson?

Q: How do you get through to the world?
A: Through the faithful suffering of my saints.

“I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.” (Colossians 1:24) Christ’s work on the cross was perfect. The completion of that work is the revelation of God’s intimate understanding of human pain and suffering through his voice to the world – us. When we suffer well we show the world that our hope lies outside of this world. Our hope is not money, security or power – it is Jesus. Your wounds speak to the world.

In Thorton Wilder’s play The Angel That Troubled the Water a man is anxiously waiting by the pool of healing where an angel comes to stir the waters and the first person in the water is healed. He wants to be healed of a malady and “fearful flaw in the heart.” Just as the waters begin to churn an angel steps in his path and holds him back from entering. “Draw back!” The man is devastated. The angel explains:

“Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very remorse that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve. Draw back.”

Suffer well saints – your life is an example to the world of a greater hope. Keep your heart pure toward God. Accept the wounding as a sign of love – he is making you into pure gold. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” (Proverbs 17:3) Your wounds and pain may not make sense this side of eternity but in the end the entire world will stand before him saying, “True and just are [your] judgments.” (Rev. 19:2)

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