“We are all just limping towards the finish line,” Daniel said to me a few weeks ago after we were talking about the great loss a friend had endured.
If you live long enough, you will find that this world is a dark and scary place. Very few Christians make it to glory without first walking through some deep valleys. Year after year, God breaks us and strips us of all self-sufficiency. He humbles us and brings us low. He gives and he takes away, and we beg for the grace to bless his name in the midst of it all.
Our family will forever walk with a limp (the first of many, I am sure). Daniel and I can think of two defining moments in our marriage, where life was never the same after we walked through them. The first was our first miscarriage. The second was Ben’s birth (and the days leading up to it). Both of these moments are wrapped up in our journey to become parents. The first marks the beginning. The second marks the end. In the middle God gave us four amazing children (and another lost through miscarriage), but they came at great cost. We have learned and been humbled by a powerful God, but we will also now limp to glory, permanently changed by the humbling brought on by such power. We are marked by the sobering reality that nothing in this life is certain. If we doubted it before, we know it without question now.
Walking with a limp is not just for modern Christians. It’s a biblical concept. In fact, in Genesis 32:22-32 is where we first see this limp in physical form. After Jacob wrestles with God, he asks God to bless him. He asks God to show him his glory. He does, but not without breaking him. Not without giving him a limp, so he forever is reminded of the fact that he wrestled with God and lived. Sometimes God lets us see his power, but even in that we are never left unchanged. And sometimes that change is painful. Sometimes that pain permanently alters us.
David was broken before he was used by God as well. Battle after battle, enemy after enemy, loneliness after loneliness, he ran from Saul and lived in fear. He had a promise of a throne, but that was it. The difficulty he endured surely changed him. Just read the Psalms and you will see echoes of this limp that comes with being humbled by God.
Even the Savior was broken, despised, rejected, and even killed. Even in the greatest act, the act that brought about our salvation, God’s power is displayed at great cost—to himself. There is great humiliation before there is great blessing.
We all walk with a limp. Live long enough and God’s power will humble you. It will break you. But it will also sustain you because the God who gave you the limp also knows what the pain is like. He went through it himself (as Tim Keller so helpfully says). We have a sympathetic Savior. We have a Savior who knows what it’s like to be broken, scarred, and battered by life and evil. We don’t ever limp alone. What a comfort.
We are all limping to glory. I know I am. But we are carried by a God who, while he displays power in such devastating ways, also saves by the same hand. Of this we are sure. The limp marks us, but it’s not permanent. As we limp along to glory, broken and bruised by life in a fallen world, we have hope. The same God who humbled us will one day restore us, whole and made new, in his presence forever (1 Peter 5:9-11).