We have a rocking horse in our attic that we bought for our son on his first birthday, 36 years ago. It is simple and sturdy, made of unfinished wood. Although it still raises its head proudly, the tail droops between its legs. I am sure we intended to paint it someday, but that day never came. Instead our son decorated it with crayons, pens and markers. We passed it down to his little sister, born eight years later, and then to our grandchildren. It is covered with scratches and scribbles, dents and dings.
The little rocking horse sits silently in our attic, ready to give rides to a generation yet to be born. It has little value. But it is priceless to us because of the scratches, dents, dings and scribbled drawings left behind by our children and grandchildren. We treasure it because of its scars.
Life is much like that. We start out youthful and unblemished, unmarred by the world. But, over time, we become scarred with age. Cuts, abrasions and burns leave their marks on our bodies. And, at a deeper level, the setbacks and disappointments, the sorrows of separation and loss add up. We find ourselves scarred and wounded.
But, like our little wooden horse, those scars make us all the more precious in our Father’s eyes.
Imagine how precious the scars that Jesus endured appear to the Father. The nail prints in His hands, the sword riven side and the lashings upon His back are the marks of his sacrifice and love. Isaiah says, “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5). And, again Peter says, “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Peter 2:24).
Few have suffered as many hardships as the Apostle Paul. Of these he wrote, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. ... 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor. 11:24-27, 12:9-10).
In like manner, we also suffer, just as Peter tells us: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13)