I have been suffering from back pain for the last few months, which has been quite debilitating. Last night, as I sat on the couch with my sausage dog on my lap, my daughter set me a poser: “Mum, would you rather have no pain and no dog, or have Carrie but continue to have pain?”
A choice between my comfort and my beloved pet – I had to think, but not for long. “I would keep things the way they are,” I told her. “I’d keep the pain for the sake of keeping Carrie.”
It occurred to me later that Jesus, and His Father God, made the same choice.
God chose the pain of our betrayal and rebellion, and Jesus chose the pain of torture and the cross, just to be in relationship with us.
They didn’t need us. The triune God is complete within Himself. But He wanted relationship with us despite all that it cost Him, and the pain of rejection that it would expose Him to.
We are creatures created in His image – relationship is really important to us too. Every time we allow ourselves to love someone, we risk pain. Every time we adopt a pet, there is near certainty that (unless they outlive us) we will be bereaved at some point and hurt. A parent knows that each child holds a little bit of your heart, making you vulnerable to intense pain. And yet a life without these connections to others is not worth living. Who would want wealth, health, good looks, vast knowledge and even eternal life without someone with whom to share it?
God deeply longs for relationship with us and has undergone agony in order to have us as His children and be able to spend eternity with us. The often quoted verse John chapter 3 and verse 16 says it all; “For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
How humbling to understand that He has gone to such great lengths for faithless and rebellious me. As John Newton wrote in his famous hymn: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.”
And in response to such great love, what can we do but surrender our lives to him.