Redemption.

Redemption.

This word is reverberating inside me tonight.

Those of you who have known me for a number of years would know that I was sick with severe eczema as a child and into my 20’s, and have been hospitalised a number of times for this condition.

I was talking to my mother earlier tonight and just reflecting on my childhood, and our journey together over the last 20 or so years. I was a very needy young child. One that needed lots of attention and affection but never really got it and in fact probably got rejection from a mother who perhaps didn’t know what she was doing

As I grew older this rejection and neediness developed in several key ways. Physically, I began to suffer with firstly bad asthma, then bad acne, and then eczema. Psychologically, I was hugely afraid of rejection and yet I craved acceptance and attention from people. I was deeply insecure. The eczema was a vicious cycle – the red, swollen and raw skin on my face particularly was cause for more shame and more fear of rejection from others.

The world spoke rejection, my flesh spoke shame.

Coping for me was escaping. I would escape in addictions to video games, and later alcohol. These were all superficial bandages placed over a festering inner wound. And all the while I was trying to get people’s attention to look at a fake puffed up Jeremy, while being ashamed and insecure inside.

God took me through a number of events beginning about 3-4 years ago where in more ways than one, he pulled off the bandages, exposing those wounds. Physically, my eczema perhaps had never been worse. I would go to work and would come home with blood splotches on my work shirts and pants from the raw exposed flesh. It was certainly one of the most difficult times of my life. I was hurting physically, and psychologically. I held desperately onto God not seeing any alternative.

The world spoke rejection, my flesh spoke shame. 

But Jesus began to speak redemption.

So tenderly, and mostly during my personal times of prayer and worship, he began to minister to my hurts, wounds, and insecurities. More than anything else it was a time where the deep love of God regularly flooded my mind and my heart both in the present but also in the past in my memory. I had one particular incident as a kid where I had so craved the attention of my mum and having not received it, I curled up on the ground in foetal position and just began to screech and yell. Jesus took me back to that memory and just wrapped himself around me, on that floor, holding me tight.

And Jesus spoke love and acceptance. He spoke redemption.

First there was emotional healing, but then surely enough, my eczema began to improve. Today, it is not quite all gone, but it is almost as if it does not exist. God is good to me. And the process of my emotional and physical healing was so closely tied to a restoration of relationship with my mother and her own journey of coming alive, it could only have been the work of a God who has not changed since orchestrating the singly most painful, yet life-giving event of human history 2000 years ago.

Steve Hwang spoke a deep word tonight on tribulation at Sydhop. I will attempt to paraphrase, adding my own nuances to it: we all experience degrees of suffering and trial in our lives. We are all products of a broken humanity and inside us are festering wounds that we can only manage to bandage up at the best of times. This is true whether we have the clarity to see it or not. And actually the deepest moments of trial and suffering in our lives are perhaps the products of God’s grace and mercy released to reveal the depths of our wounds. The question is: are we willing to come to a place of acceptance and patient endurance in these tribulations before God? If we do, then our tribulations and sufferings become our inheritance. He is a God of redemption. You see what was a weakness, and what was death, is suddenly our strength, it is suddenly our life. In the dying and in the suffering, there is life and there is freedom.

And this is our hope. And this is our story. And this is our testimony. That in every valley, Jesus is speaking redemption, and God is leading the way to the mountain top, that in every Bathsheba, there is a saviour born, that in every cross, there is life now and life eternal, that out of the ashes, beauty rises.

 

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