Recently, I took my newly walking flower of a one year old daughter, my three year old superhero, and my five year old nobleman to a festival Hegeler Park in LaSalle, Illinois. My wife happily went to the grocery store alone! They happily rode ponies, played in bouncy houses, ate hotdogs from the fire department concession stand, and cheered our good friend Hannah Marincic as she won the LaSalle Idol singing competition. It was a great day and all of the kids had a great time. That is, with one exception.
Throughout the day I had a growing sense that my happy five year old boy had an increasing agitation looming just beneath the surface of his otherwise blissful appearance. When we first arrived he saw some other kids who had balloon swords. You know the really neat kind that clowns will sometimes make at carnivals. He asked me for one and I said "In a little while, after Hannah sings." He asked again and I said "I promise I won't forget."
By the time early afternoon had turned into late afternoon he reminded me again so we went hunting for the source of these five year old treasures. We found the table where a woman sat who had been previously making balloons. As we approached we learned that the kid who had arrived in line just before us would be the last child to receive a balloon! My son was noticeably disappointed. He asked in young boy's manner if he could please have one. He was told to come back tomorrow and maybe someone would make him one. Maybe tomorrow!
I consoled him and we moved onto the craft pavilion where I was certain that making a craft would ease his damaged soul. Not more than a minute after we sat down the worst thing that could have occurred next occurred! A band of perhaps 6 or 7 seven little boys his age came running through the pavilion, each of them wielding not one but two balloon swords each! My son turned to me with tears in his eyes and said "Dad, this is the worst day of my life!"
As an aside, I did manage to console my son and by all indications this event will not in fact scar him for life.
His experience though does highlight the fact that life is often unfair; sometimes it is just plain cruel and it seems at times even to be mocking us. In the Gospel of Mark is recounted the events that led up to the death of Jesus. In fact it says that Jesus was treated with the worst kind of mocking cruelty. My son's disappointment in the way life seemed to be treating him that day pales in comparison to the mockery of the King of Kings having a crown of thorns thrust upon His head. It is barely a shadow of the Prince of Peace having being clothed in a purple robe (the color of royalty in the ancient world) and rather than giving a royal scepter to the Son of God, "Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him." (Mark 15:19 NIV84)
Friend, I have written all of this only so that I can say just one thing: we who follow Christ do not follow a God who only from His throne declares royal decrees. Jesus walked more than a mile in our shoes. In fact, just as the High Priest in the Old Testament would make atonement for the sins of the people by the sacrifice of an animal's blood, Jesus walked the dusty trails of this life all the way to the Cross. He did this because the blood of animals could never save anyone.
They only pointed to the day when Jesus would shed His perfect royal blood on our behalf to take upon Himself the penalty for our sin so that we could receive the gift of His royal blood which washes us free from our sin. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are yet was without sin." (Hebrews 4:15 NIV84)
Today, if you are temped, if you feel like life is unfair and mocking, cry out to Jesus. He stands ready to receive all those who call upon Him. He will heal your broken heart if you turn it over to His love. This world will throw some bad days at us but with Jesus we have the strength to stand and the real hope of a future life with the lover and redeemer of our lives!
Chris Surber is the Pastor of First Congregational Church of Peru, Illinois. A graduate of Liberty Theological Seminary, he is known for his compassion for people and his passion in the pulpit.
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