He toddles over to me, reaching with his little hand.“Maaaaah-maaaaaaah,” he wails, while pools form beneath his eyes. He’s just hurt his finger some way or another, and he wants me to make it better. “Mama, kiss it” he pleads. I kneel beside him, encircling him in my arms and touch my lips to his owie. “All better?” I ask. He nods emphatically and waddles back to his playing.
Every time this little one comes to me with his troubles, he demonstrates so much faith. I am certain that my kiss has not extracted the pain from his tiny body. But he hasn’t asked me to take away the pain. What he has asked of me is to care, to give him the opportunity to be healed. He believes that my care will make it all better, and maybe more profoundly, even if subconsciously, he trusts that my kiss will bring the healing that He needs.
When I’m wounded I don’t want to think about healing as a process; especially not a lengthy one. When things happen that hurt me, I acknowledge the pain in that moment but then I want to skip to the end when I can turn back to look at the good that God promised to work in all things (Romans 8:28). It comes naturally for me to assume that the initial pain will reveal the good immediately. I want to look at a quickly created scar and say, “This thing happened to me once. It was bad, but now I am all better.” But, that’s not really how injury and recovery works.
When a physical ailment is healing, it’s not usually a pretty sight. Some “owies” must get much worse before they can get better, like when a bruise shifts through a rainbow of colors before things look “normal” again. Icky ooze sometimes escapes the borders of a once bloody wound. Healing is uncomfortable. As broken skin mends, the irritable itching can feel unbearable. Sometimes more pain must be inflicted in order for healing to happen like when pointy metal objects pluck out slivers or ticks are burned out of skin.
Recently, I’ve had to stop and realize that I am not currently being afflicted and I am also not yet healed. I can see the past, where God made beauty from broken… and I can look hopefully at a future that will be good because God said it will be. Yet, in the here and now, this immeasurable in-between is confusing. Here in the sting of healing there’s still an ache, a burn, and an itch. Unpleasant things are coming out of me, and when I reach down to feel my wound, I discover that I am still a lot more tender than I had hoped.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
We tend to read these verses and think of only the future. Someday it all will be right. The sadness and sickness and death will be defeated. But I think there’s something more here on which to meditate. The light and momentary troubles that Paul mentions could be anything from daily hardship in household chores to persecution until near death. And these things have not already passed, they’re going on right now. The trials we’re facing at this moment have not already achieved eternal glory, but are doing that work at this moment in the healing process. We do not want to stay present in this painful process. We might not be able to see through the sting, but we can choose to fix our eyes on the unseen beauty in this still-broken state. Knowing that He is restoring all things encourages us to hold on until it really will be all better.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… For when I am weak, then I am strong” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
When we show God the owie and ask Him to “kiss it,” we are actively putting our hope in His lasting love and power over weakness. Even if the pain seems unbearable, God’s eternal glory is being achieved in the sting of healing. He will make it all better.