“Hi, Mister! I’d like to see your puppies.”
The young boy smiled broadly.
The farmer led the boy to a pen where a litter of puppies scampered eagerly about their mother. The farmer was selling them, and the boy had been saving his money.
The farmer watched as the lad carefully scrutinized the black and white pups.
After a few moments, the boy pointed to a quiet puppy sitting alone in the back of the pen. He called him, and the little dog gingerly limped toward the boy, wagging its tail.
“I’d like that one,” the boy said.
“Well,” the farmer said softly to the boy, “I’m not sure you want that puppy. He was born with a bad leg. He can get around OK, but he’ll never be able to run and keep up with you like these others would. Wouldn’t you rather have one of these other healthy pups?”
“I really want that one,” the boy insisted.
Then the boy reached down and slowly lifted up his pant leg, revealing a steel brace attached to a special shoe.
“You see Mister,” the boy explained to the farmer, “I don’t run too well myself, and I figure this little guy will need someone who understands him.”
Someone who understands
In all our weakness and vulnerability, in all our frailty and fears, how much each of us needs someone who understands us. The world is not a sympathetic place. The world does not understand, the world doesn’t want to understand, the world cannot understand.
That’s why we sometimes feel quite alone—surrounded by busy people on a mission that doesn’t include us. Like the little limping puppy, we struggle to keep up in the competitive race of life. And when it seems everyone can run and jump except us, it’s not always easy.
Yet suppose the greatest, most powerful, most awesome, most wonderful and most glorious Being in the whole universe understood you more completely than anyone else you’ve ever known.
Then imagine this eternal, omnipotent Being was a God of infinite love, who not only knew and understood you fully, but in understanding you, loved you with an unfathomable love.
God knows and understands
This is every Christian’s joyful testimony. We are unfailingly and unchangeably loved by the God who never changes and cannot fail.
At the center of God’s love, of course, is his glory and greatness. But there is also the element of mercy and redemption—and matchless grace—that makes divine love higher, longer, wider and deeper than anything we could ever experience.
God’s love is beyond dimension. That’s how he can understand us—and it’s why he does.
In Christ, God proved his identity with us. This is the glory of the incarnation. God came because he cared. And God cares because he came. And through his Son, God showed us he understood.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,” the writer of Hebrews tells us, “but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus understands our weaknesses and temptations because he has been “just as we are.” Sinless—yes; divine—certainly; but also fully human. And in the humanity of Christ, we have hope.
In Christ, we are known and understood
We know Jesus has been “touched with the feeling of our infirmities” (Hebrews 4:15).
I love that King James rendering. It’s so tender, compassionate and expressive.
Our Savior has been “touched”—moved and influenced.
Our High Priest isn’t some stoic god playing chess in the sky with our lives. He knows how you feel—intimately, deeply and fully.
He also knows your “infirmities”—the frailties of mortality. He understands your doubts and your fears. Because he was once in the flesh, he appreciates the limitations of the flesh.
God loves us, even in our weakness
The prophet Isaiah reassures us that God is never through with us, even when we’re down. “A bruised reed He will not break. And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish” (Isaiah 42:3).
God embraces us—the wounded, the limping. God will not break us while we are bruised. He will not snuff us out, even if our fire of holy devotion that once burned bright may now be only a smoldering ember of pain and regret. God’s Spirit will fan life into us once again. He will never give up on us—even if we give up on him.
Because he understands us, God loves us the most when we deserve it the least.
Every church must be a place where the wounded are welcome. God’s family isn’t what you join after you’ve got your act together. It’s where you’re safe to come while you’re getting your act together.
When we limp, God doesn’t pick on us, he picks us.
“I’d like that one,” he says. To him, despite our limp of sin and weakness, we are very special.
We are God’s gracious choice.
He holds us, cares for us, feeds us and loves us. God adopts us and he takes us home.
Jack Wyman has been involved in politics, pastoral ministry and non-profit organizations. He has served on the local school board, two terms as a state lawmaker, and has been a nominee for the U.S. Senate and a candidate for governor of Maine. He is a former educator, political consultant and author. He has served as the pastor of four churches in Maine, Connecticut and Texas.