We live in a world that values the appearance of strength, health, and invulnerability. Most of us do our best to present ourselves as successful people, whether through job resumés or Facebook profiles. Sometimes, the pressure to seem successful can feel almost overwhelming.
Even when we put forward a positive image, we can’t escape from reality. No matter what anyone else thinks, we still have to live with the ways in which we are broken, unhappy, and unsuccessful. Whether or not we choose to be honest about it, each of us carries our own set of burdens.
As long as we try to meet the world’s expectations, we are trapped in our own secret experience of grief and despair. To live up to the demands of success, we must suppress and deny the reality of our own failure and pain. We are left alone with our own doubts and fears, prisoners of our own image of happiness and success.
There is a way out of this hidden bondage. In Jesus, we encounter a God who mourns; suffers shame and a painful death; and comes face to face with what it means to be a failure in the eyes of the world. When Jesus cried out in agony on the cross, he was not putting on some sort of a show for our benefit. He really meant it. He felt the full blunt force trauma of failure and a sense of abandonment by God. Not only did Jesus experience these things, he allowed us to see it happen. God did not hide his pain and weakness from us, but rather put it on display as an act of vulnerability and love.
For those of us who choose to follow Jesus, our God will always be one who bears our wounds. Even after the triumph of the resurrection, he bears the marks of his suffering. Jesus forever demonstrates God’s power through his willingness to be weak, wounded, broken for us.
The risen Jesus is marked with wounds on his hands, feet and side. In the same way, as we embrace his resurrection life, our bodies must display the marks of our own trials. Are we willing to let others see us as we really are, even inviting them to touch our wounds? For those of us who choose to follow the Lamb who was slain, what does it look like to imitate the fearless weakness and vulnerability of our savior? Rather than suffering in isolation, hiding behind a false veneer of success, are we ready to bring our pain out into the light?