By Tom Claibourne
When my son, Micah, was 7, he did his best to help me build a baseball backstop. After stapling the fencing to the frame, I let him hammer each staple to further secure it. I pointed each time where I wanted him to hammer, and he would proudly hit that spot.
At one point he missed a staple so I pointed my finger near the spot, not realizing his hammer was already racing my finger to that location. Needless to say, I let out a loud wail after the impact. My cry startled him and he realized I was in pain. He looked heartbroken when he realized he had hurt me. I tried to downplay the incident and move on to completing the project, but the blood puddles on the ground let him know all was not well.
It obviously bothered Micah that he had hurt me, which made me feel good because it meant he cared about me and did not want to hurt me. Since my finger throbbed with pain for at least seven more hours, I had plenty of time to reflect on the incident, as well as on deeper issues. I began asking myself how often I hurt my heavenly Father, and the extent it bothers me when I do.
I recalled the time before the worldwide flood when human wickedness became so great that every inclination of the thoughts of the people’s hearts was evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). Then the Bible says, “The Lord was grieved that He had made man on the earth, and His heart was filled with pain” (6:6).
In other words, when evil fills our hearts, pain fills God’s heart! With our sin we have jabbed at God’s heart far too many times. Come to think of it, we have hammered his hands with spikes, too, just like the “wicked men” who were confronted by the apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:23).
The Lord’s table of remembrance calls us to contemplate the pain our sin brought upon Jesus. That recollection should stir us to strive for a pure heart that will fill God’s heart with joy. Jesus’ sacrificial death and glorious resurrection makes that transformation possible.
Tom Claibourne serves as preaching minister with the Bethlehem Church of Christ near Winchester, Ohio.