by Boyd NIcholson from The Watered Garden, Gospel Folio Press
What is this mysterious thing, this universal sorrow, and why? Multitudes throughout the earth today cry out with Jeremiah, "Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable?" Breaking out as a consequence of sin in Eden, it came first to the human race when Eve was promised the sorrowful pangs of childbirth.
Because of sin, things go wrong, but God is merciful to warn us of impending dangers. The leper's problem is that there is a loss of all sensation in the extremities. No pain is felt there and infections destroy those members. So pain is part of the alarm system that warns us something is out of order to steps can be taken.
For the believer, the closer we seek to follow the Master, the more we are led into the deeper meanings of the cross. The Lord asked a very solemn question of James and John: "Are you able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" Their response was, as one, "We are able." The Lord's solemn reply was, 'Yes shall drink indeed of My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with" (Mt. 20:20-23), Not that they would share in His expiatory sufferings. Those He must bear alone. But they would taste of that cup, and enter the waters where He would plunge to the very bottom under all the waves and billows of God's judgment against our sins. So pain may be the result of the Lord's dealings with us, that we might learn something, at least by contrast, of His own deep sufferings and wondrous love.
Those who know something of the shuddering pain that racks the whole body and assails the mind to unhinge it, may well ask if there is anyone, even the most loved, for whom they would willingly offer to enter that realm of anguish, in the full knowledge of all it would entail of desperate hours and seemingly endless nights of distress. Perhaps that is why mother-love stands unique among the loves of human hearts.
But there was One who was willing, blessed by His lovely Name! From eternal ages He loved us. Knowing us through and through as poor sinners, He left the comforts of His heavenly home, the holy cry of seraphim, the constant service of angels, and the glory of His throne to suffer and to die. It was in the full and unshielded knowledge of all this that He would suffer, He set His face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51; 18:31-33).
What kind of a love is this? When we think of who He is, the Inhabiter of eternity, God's beloved Son. And when we think of this poor planet, stained with blood, spoiled by sin, inhabited by rebels unworthy even to look up to the vault of heaven, far less go and live there. Yet He loved us notwithstanding all, and came to suffer and die for us. It was not to suffer one mortal agony. He could cry through the psalmist, "The pains of hell gat hold upon Me" (Ps 116:3).
But there was something far beyond the pains of the beating and the smiting, beyond the agony of the thorn and the nail, beyond the burnings of thirst and of insult. When all that was endured, God drew the mourning cloth of darkness around His Son, not to protect Him, but that no one should behold except the sorrowing God, the utter depths, the abandoned woes of the Lamb of God as He bore away the sin of the world.
Many have been the sufferers of this weeping race, disfigured and twisted by their pains, but only of God's Perfect Servant, that Man of Sorrow, is it recorded, "his visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." Nor man ever saw that visage so marred, nor ever beheld that tormented form, as out yonder in the "land not inhabited," the lovely, lonely Son of God became the scapegoat to bear away the world's sin. All the pangs of hell were gathered together, all the pains of God's judgment found their target in the sinless Sufferer, who "bare our sin in His own body on the tree."
Whatever pain of this life we may have known even in its extremity,, it only leaves us standing amazed and speechless on the shores of a fathomless ocean of the love of God in Christ Jesus, to wonder, to worship, and adore.
For me Thou has borne the reproaches,
The mockery hate and disdain;
The blow and the spittings of sinners.
The scouring the shame and the pain;
To save me from bondage and judgment,
Thou gladly hast suffered for me,
A thousand a thousand thanksgivings,
I bring blessed Savior to Thee! Ernst Hornburg