To be human is to wage a lifelong battle against our wounds and mortality, which means every one of us is fighting our own war. We may have the best intentions, but far too often we fail to offer attunement to those who most need it. Rather than offering safety, we attempt to secure our own through distance, detachment, control, or codependence. And rather than experiencing healing, we all end up a bit more broken.
We need a relationship that won’t fail us, a bond that won’t break. Someone willing and able to see our need and supply a resonating response to it. Someone able to feel our pain without succumbing to it.
And we have that someone in the incarnation.
While we’re busy trying to escape mortality, God put it on. In response to our cries for relief, God put on flesh and blood, aches and pains, mood swings, exhaustion, and digestive distress. He left a pain-free existence of perfection, one without trauma or loss of any sort, and instead slipped each foot into the pant legs of the human predicament.
And He did it for one reason alone. To be with us, to attune to us.
“For to us a child is born.” (Isa. 9:6)
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, emphasis mine)
“He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering.” (Isa. 53:3–4)
The incarnation is the greatest miracle of all time. From birth to death, Jesus endured the full human experience. Aches and pains. Hunger. Sleepless nights. Disappointment. Weariness. Laughter. Delight. And yes, I’m pretty sure He barfed. That’s part of the human experience too. The Sovereign, All-Powerful, All- Knowing One became a baby and did not exercise any of His rights.
Becoming one of us …
And suddenly the inaccessible God whose veiled presence hovered in a tabernacle moved out from behind the curtain to become someone I can see, touch, know. Whereas Dorothy’s wizard proved a disappointment when the curtain was pulled back, Jesus proved to be a deliverer. Not less able to save us but even more.
God in the garden. God in a covenantal promise. God on a ladder reaching down from heaven. God in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire. God in a tabernacle. God in a whisper.
And now God in skin.
… There are days I long to share space with someone who gets me. Someone who knows the struggle to swallow and eat, who under- stands my slip into self-consciousness when speaking in public, who knows the ongoing battle between faith and fear.
We have such a deep need to be understood, to know that other flesh-and-blood-wearers, especially those closest to us, understand our reality. And yet there’s a disconnect. As well-meaning as most people may be, it is rare to find a person who sticks around long enough to empathize with our experience and bear it with us. It’s easier to move on.
It’s painful, for all of us. This deep aching desire to be known and understood, in all our pain and suffering, and yet our inability both to find people who get us and to become people who truly understand and empathize with others.
And yet there is one who does this without fail.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” —Hebrews 4:14–16
Atonement through attunement. Reparation of brokenness through an empathetic and redemptive response, the entering in of the incarnation, God Himself taking on our trauma so we can, finally, be whole.