Skinned knees

As children grow up there comes that inevitable day when they ask their parents for a bicycle, or rollerblades, or ice skates. In considering this the parent is always very aware that these activities, while fun and exhilarating, invariably lead to skinned knees, grazed elbows, bumps, bruises, and sometimes even broken bones.

Some few parents react by denying the request. They think it better to deny the pleasure than to risk the pain. They are not willing to take the chance of their precious child being hurt. They would rather cocoon their child than have to see them in pain even for a while.

Others, aware of the potential pain, allow the activity believing that the suffering will make the child “grow up” or “become a man”.  There is no real love here, but rather a hard “realism” about the nature of life.

Then there are those parents who accept that accidents will happen but who prepare for them: they lay in bandages and ointment and stand ready with hugs and sympathy.

Most of us, I expect, would consider the first type to be, at best, killjoys, and the second as cold and unloving. Given the choice, we would choose the third kind as our parents. We want to be able to experience life, but we also want to know that healing and comfort are close at hand.

Which makes it all the odder that when life hurts us we accuse God (or deny Him) for not being that first kind of parent. “How could a loving God allow…?” we ask. Maybe others have hurt us, perhaps seriously, so we tell God it would be a better world if such things could not happen. God, fortunately, is not such a killjoy. He knew of the probability of pain, but thought that the benefits—love, joy, happiness—were worth the risk.

Nor is He like the second sort of parent. Deists may believe that god set the universe up and then left us to our own devises, but that is not the god we Christians know.

No, instead, knowing the possible (inevitable) pain, God prepared the remedy: He sent Jesus. In Jesus, God not only made the ointment that can heal our hurts, He also experienced the hurts Himself! Now, when He opens His arms to offer us hugs and sympathy, we can know it is real because He really does understand—He skinned his own knees.

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