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Tuesday, April 24, 2007


“For those parents… for the rest of their lives… their best days, their happy days… it’s all behind them now… all past. There will not be a day that is not tinged with… framed by this loss.”

Earlier this week, that’s what a friend said to me about the families of the Virginia Tech victims.

That’s intense.

Right now, the country is still reeling from the shock of the tragedy at Virginia Tech. We can’t wrap our minds around it. I can’t imagine what it would be like for some one close in… for a close friend or a family member… or a parent.

Well, until I talked to my friend this week. If anyone else had said those words – about the best days being in the past, I would have kindly nodded, but thought otherwise. But he knows. He’s lost a grown child and it’s been some years now. And he’s a Christian. And he still said those words with all the conviction in the world. I have no reason to doubt him.

In the kind of world we live in, there is such evil, such pain, such sorrow, and such loss, that we can receive a heart-wound that leaves a permanent scar. There is part of me that wants to argue that God can heal all things with time and in His miraculous mercy. But maybe there are scars that we bear for a lifetime.

Jesus, after all, kept his.

Have you ever wondered why God raised Jesus from the dead and gave him a glorified body that could walk through walls and ascend into Heaven.... and didn't heal the scars from the crucifixion?

Is it fair to say that there is not a day for the rest of eternity that Jesus or any of those gathered around him will not see or touch those scars and remember the tragic event of his execution?

It is important to recognize that those close to tragedy deal with "open wounds" for a long time, maybe even years. It is also important to recognize that even after that, there may be scars. Jesus, betrayed and killed by evil and human sin, bears scars like that.

At that same prayer meeting where my friend said those words about the best days being behind, we went on to pray, offering prayers for those close to the Virginia Tech tragedy. That same friend, whose stark honesty surprised me, quietly went on to pray about hope and Heaven and God's ministering Spirit in a way that left me breathless. I have no doubt that he bears scars from the loss of his son, and those may last forever. I know that he also identifies with and looks in hope to a savior that knows his grief intimately and who offers him peace that is beyond understanding.

That is intense... and it is intensely comforting.

[This post based on THIS sermon.]


Debbie said...

That's a really great post, Robert. It acknowledges the very real, deep pain that people feel, and yet gives hope, because Jesus still has those scars, and so knows our pain, and can comfort us. Some of us may feel pain for a lifetime, yet Jesus is there with us. I hope I never have to deal with the loss of a child, but it's so wonderful to have even such a loss as that set in this context. Thank you!

robert austell said...

thanks 'cuz' - I was so pleased when I looked up who debbie was. One of these days we might actually meet!

This post came from last Sunday's sermon - it was a very "intense" service... actually part of a sermon series on joy from Philippians (of all things!)... I had never thought much about Jesus' scars... until this.

Hope you and your hubby are doing well. It's good to hear from you.

regressivepresby said...

Great post Robert. Seriously. Thanks.


regressivepresby said...

Ok- Confession here; I stole from you Robert

I used the observation that Jesus' scars remained, even in his resurrected body, in talking about Jacob's wrestling with God in Gen. 32. Essentially challenging the congregation (and myself- hate it when that happens) that God's blessing is a dangerous thing. The blessing doesn't leave us as we are, it might leave us lame, bearing the scars of his blessing for all eternity. Your post really helped me connect things back to the cross. Thanks.

grace & peace,

robert austell said...

dave - that's a great connection... I may steal it back in it's jacob-form! :)

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