When we saw my dad moments after his open-heart surgery, all I could think was,
“By His wounds we are healed. By His wounds we are healed. By His wounds we are healed.”
I really didn’t know what I meant by it at the time. If you’ve ever seen a loved one after major surgery, you know what kind of shock I felt, along with my mother and sister, as we looked on his gray fish-colored body, freshly striped red in the place where his sternum had been sawed open, then glued back together. Only the beep of heart rate machines and the faint motion of his chest assured us he was alive.
And so maybe my chant was just a comforting distraction, pulled from Isaiah 53:5. The verse is in reference to Jesus’ crucifixion, and His wounds that would buy our salvation.
What did Jesus’ wounds have to do with my dad’s wounds?
Turns out, everything.
On Wednesday morning, I had the incomprehensible pleasure of giving a talk to a women’s ministry. I chose the topic of suffering, largely because of my dad and how he’s taught me in word and by example the great spiritual value in suffering.
As I was speaking, I suddenly realized what it meant when I looked at my dad’s chest cut through and thought, “By His wounds we are healed.”
During my talk, I mentioned Romans 8:17. I love this verse. It’s where I got this website’s title, “Heirs with Christ.” The gist of Romans 8:17 is that we believers will inherit the same amazing things Jesus is to inherit. It’s mind-boggling. I still can’t understand the lavish generosity of it.
But there is one caveat. The verse says we will inherit these things “if”…
IF we “share in His sufferings.”
(“SO THAT we may share in His glory.”)
Say what? Why would we want to share in Christs’ horrific sufferings? Why would a loving God expect us to?
The point of my talk was this: Suffering is what makes us more like Jesus. I even went as far as to say it is a gift, when we allow it to draw us nearer to God, rather than farther away in bitterness. (Need Biblical backup? I just picked a few here, here, and here.) God, in His great love, grants us to suffer… because suffering makes us more like Christ, and brings us to a place where we can inherit all that is His.
I remembered today that Jesus’ resurrected body still bore scars. The scars were not sad signs of defeat. The scars were the proof of His glory. The cross hadn’t been some bad dream. It had really happened. He had truly suffered for us. And so He bore His wounds proudly, now standing victorious.
I always pictured Jesus in Heaven with a body unblemished. After all, Heaven is where He is glorified. But I forgot that even as victorious and risen from the grave, He is pictured in Revelation as heaven’s slain lamb. The wounds are part of the glory.
And my imagination went wild. When we get to heaven, will even our resurrected bodies still bear scars, glorious proofs of the suffering we shared with Christ? Will our scars be part of the glory we share with Jesus?
Human attitude towards suffering is one of disdain, and so I once assumed that Heaven will hold no trace of the sorrows we went through. We long for trials to be erased, as if they never happened, when the truth is that our greatest transformation as Christians happens during the pain. So now I wonder…
Will my dad’s chest still be striped with a mark of victory? Will my own scars from surgery as a baby glow bright, so we all worship and say, “Look what He brought us through!” Will there be special markings to show the emotional pains we’ve battled, yet Jesus overcame for us? Will the broken places of those who have been cut for cancer radiate light, so that we point and say, “See! They suffered and now share in the glory!”
My musings are creative and not (necessarily?) Biblical… but I still wonder. It’s easy to assume our bodies will be unblemished in heaven. But Jesus’ resurrected body still wore holes as if they were badges of honor and splendor. And every time we suffer well, we’re sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
Will we too look a bit slain in Heaven?
And will that be glorious?
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