Camden is in a place now where he is learning the hard way how to walk. Perhaps it is harder for his parents! (If you’re a parent, I’m sure you know what I mean.) He is finding his way around our house by holding on to various pieces of furniture or walls or whatever. Occasionally he takes steps on his own without the assistance of anything else.
But, though it is getting less frequent, there are plenty of times when we hear a bang and then loud screaming and crying. We don’t want to be the type of parents that just hover around him and not let him learn for himself, but it is tough to take when your ten-month-old child is screaming at jet-like decibels, replete with an ocean of tears shooting from his eyes.
And yet, in this cruel world of sin, pain is necessary to grow. I wish it weren’t so. But that’s the reality of things. We don’t learn to walk unless we have taken a few tumbles—and painful tumbles at that. We don’t learn to spell a word unless we first misspell that word. And we don’t understand and appreciate grace unless we have first messed up and recognize our need for grace!
There are a few lessons that I have come to realize as a result of Camden’s stumbling: first, if I am so pained over Camden’s pain when he falls, how much more so is God, not only over Camden’s pain, but all of our pain—whether physical, emotional, or spiritual? And think about this: God has to witness over six billion people falling—often simultaneously—and His heart is touched with grief for every single one. “What is the price of two sparrows,” Jesus asked, “But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. . . . Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29, 31).
Second, I long for the day—hopefully very soon—when pain is eliminated as a necessary prerequisite for learning and growing. And God reminds us that there will come a time when there is “no more sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain” (Revelation 21:4).
Lastly, I think about all this in the context of sin. It’s hard to believe that there are some of us who like stumbling in sin so much—and the pain that it causes—that we refuse to believe that God’s goal in the salvation process is to eliminate our acts of sin completely in this present life. And yet this is what He promises over and over in the Bible—perhaps not more beautifully than in Jude’s prayer at the end of his tiny epistle: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). This is, perhaps, the greatest news of all! The grace of God can keep us from falling. It can keep us from sinning. It can present us as faultless before God’s very throne.
And the pain of sin is definitely something I could do without!