When Adam and Eve sinned (Genesis 3), God could have destroyed them and started the world out from scratch again. But however marred and wicked people had become, God still had compassion on them (2 Peter 3:9, 1 John 4:19). Even though they had chosen death for themselves, He desired them to live.
That is why He left trails of hope for thousands of years, prophecies and promises that, one day, death would be reversed (Hosea 13:14, 1 Corinthians 15:55) and His people would be able to commune freely with Him once more (Ephesians 2:13-14). Those promises came true when He sent His only son, Jesus Christ.
I love Jesus' other name: Emmanuel - God with us (Matthew 1:23). He didn't just stand far away, angry at sin and wanting nothing to do with us. No, He got up close (John 1:14). He lived life on earth, with all of its pains and ugliness. He was wounded with our weakness and stained with our sorrow (Isaiah 53:5, Hebrews 4:15). Then, when the time was right, He chose a path that would cost more pain to Himself than the universe had ever seen.
He became sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He took every evil thought and every dirty deed, as if His hands had murdered and His feet had kicked and His eyes had lusted. He became what we are. He was torn away from the person He loved most in the world (Matthew 27:46) in order to satisfy justice for the very people who had caused His pain. He stood between us and God (1 John 2:1, Matthew 20:28) and absorbed all of God's fury against the dark things that had destroyed a beautiful and perfect world, all of the voices that had cursed the very One who gave them life (Romans 3, 24-25, 6:23).
If it had ended there, our thanksgiving would falter and our rejoicing would cease. But it didn't end there. Jesus lived again (1 Peter 3). Jesus had come to do more than just wipe our slates clean. He came to give us life forever (John 3:15), a life so rich, so powerful, and so endless that it laughs at death. It changed us forever.
It also changed Him forever. He did not simply return to Heaven in perfection. He holds deep scars in His risen body that can never be erased (John 20:27), because it is only through His scars that we can be healed. It is only through His scars that we will recognize Him when He returns to earth (Revelation 5:6) to claim the people He has bound His life to, as a man binds His life to the woman He loves (2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19:7).
I love these scars. They mean that I am free from the bondage of guilt, free from the pain of death, and free to be the beautiful woman that God made me to be.
Thank You for choosing excruciating pain in order to heal me. Thank You for seeing, not what I am, but who I can be through You. Thank You, thank You, for choosing the scars.
None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.