|“He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.” - Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)
By His Stripes, Are We Sure?
By Jennifer E. Jones
My cousin Sheri’s five-year-old daughter, Carrie, is at that precious stage where she loves to ask questions – lots of questions. In her mind, everything is up for discussion and further explanation.
One day, they were riding in the car when the following dialogue began:
Carrie: "Mommy, where is Papa going?"
Sheri: "Papa's going to work."
Carrie: "What does he do at work?"
Sheri: "He gives medicine to people who are sick."
Carrie: "Why are they sick?"
Sheri: "Sometimes people just get sick."
Carrie: "Does God make them sick?"
Sheri: "No, but sometimes they just get sick."
Carrie: "What was God doing?"
Sheri: "Um, I don't know. Sometimes it just happens."
Big thoughts from such a little kid. When Sheri told me this story, I thought about how often I’ve asked that same question of God.
It can drive you crazy, can’t it? “Why do bad things happen to good people” is still the No. 1 stumper for even the most scholarly theologians. It’s like a cold. Common yet there’s still no cure. I mostly try not to think about it because I don’t want to get a headache.
In spite of my best efforts to stay blissfully ignorant, the perplexing issue came back to me while reading an Easter morning devotion. There was 1 Peter 2:24 staring me right in the face: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed (NIV).”
I’m ashamed to say this but my very first thought after reading this verse was: Well, that’s not true.
I immediately chastised myself. How can you think that? It’s the Word of God. Didn’t Sunday school teach you anything?
However, I could not shake the multiple instances where I did not see someone healed. In fact, I could cite several people who actually got worse after prayer.
Like a little girl questioning her mommy, I asked God, “How can You say we’ve been healed when, more often than not, we aren’t? If people are going to get sick and die anyway, then what’s the point of having this verse in the Bible?”
One thing I love about God is His patience – especially when I’m being a little Carrie and my questions far outweigh my faith.
In a moment’s thought, God lovingly answered me. When He was through, I was not only satisfied, I was apologetic.
God brought to mind a line from Paul Colman’s song “Always.” In this song, Paul sings, “You are forever / And I am a moment.”
Short and sweet. Simple but true.
See, God is a big-picture God. Yes, He's in the details too but to us -- human beings defined clearly by space and time -- God is a big-picture God. He looks at everything in light of eternity.
We tend to think about our lives as we know them right now. We are consumed with our present reality (i.e., I have no job or I’m battling cancer). We can’t see into the future; heck, we can’t even see around the corner.
God, on the other hand, is able to be in the past, present and the future all at once. At this very moment, He is presently sitting with Paul and Silas in the jail cell and also sitting with you at your bedside 25 years from now. He exists outside of time. He’s just that big.
So when God inspired Peter to record the original words of Isaiah, “by his wounds you have been healed,” God was able to see your healing right before His eternal eyes. Whether it’s immediate or an ultimate healing in heaven, it’s still a healing promised and fulfilled.
You may be asking, “Well, what good is a heavenly healing going to do me now?” Probably not much. If your healing is on the other side of Jordan, it could mean a lot of pain here on earth. Sometimes we have to go through suffering. As my cousin said, it just happens.
However, it may ease your mental anguish to think of life the way the Father does.
Despite how long we feel like our lives are, our very existence on this planet is a blip on the eternal radar screen. We’re here today. Poof! Gone tomorrow. I believe James compares us to “a vapor” (James 4:14 KJV).
If you think about your life as a small piece of a much bigger puzzle, it drastically minimizes your current struggles. Paul especially understood this. Here’s a man who could never catch a break. He was often in jail, on his way to jail, or being chased out of town by an angry mob. And yet through all that, he wrote, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 NIV). Paul knew how to see life through the eyes of eternity.
One of my favorite lines from an Alanis Morissette song is from “No Pressure over Cappuccino” when she sings, “We are temporary arrangements.” We truly are. Before we know it, this life will be over.
It's interesting that we ask very big questions for having such little time to process the answers. Lucky for us, God is patient and kind. He asks only that we trust Him as He takes the wheel on this spiritual journey.
Got comments? Drop me a line.
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