I remember hearing when I was pregnant that having children is like allowing little pieces of your heart to wander around outside your body. As I stood in the shower in the aftermath of a terrifying day, that sentiment had never felt truer.
Hours earlier I had looked down at my 9-year-old son on an emergency room table. He had been attacked by a neighbor’s dog, and a chunk of his right side was missing. My son was in shock, traumatized by the attack, and panicked at the thought of stitches. When I looked into his eyes and recognized his terror and panic, I would have given anything to take his place.
As I cried, I counted all the blessings we’d received in the midst of it – that the bite wasn’t worse, that the wait in the ER wasn’t long, that the staff had been skilled and kind. I thanked God over and over, but my mind kept flashing back to that moment of desperately wanting to trade places with my son.
I would have felt grateful to let the emergency room professionals stick me with needles, to bear the fear of having the wound washed, and for it to have been my flesh being sewn back together. I would have been grateful to bear those terrible things to make my son whole again, and to be honest, the intensity of that love surprised me.
Then I heard God whisper into my heart, “Why does that seem so surprising? It’s the way I love you, too. Don’t you remember?”
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
Then I remembered how our Father loves us so dearly that He came to us clothed in the flawed and messy human condition only to endure pain, suffering, demoralization, and death. He endured these things to make each one of His children whole again.
I love my son enough to have wanted his place on that emergency room table, but Jesus loves us so much bigger and better than that. When we’re broken and hurting, Jesus sees our terror and panic. He took our place on the cross willingly. Then He rose on the third day, so that everything broken and hurting in this world will one day be made whole.
Just as God was at work on mankind’s redemption in the midst of mankind’s greatest evil at the cross, He is working to make the world whole again in every moment of our lives. Even – maybe especially – the moments full of evil, fear, pain, and suffering. Though I would never “trade” my son’s emergency room experience to better understand God’s love, I do want to watch for those things that man (or sometimes dog) meant for evil, but God is using for good.
He is constantly at work putting our broken world back together, and I don’t want to overlook any of it.