“If something is suffering the death of a thousand cuts, or death by a thousand cuts, lots of small bad things are happening, none of which are fatal in themselves, but which add up to a slow and painful demise.”
This quote recently gave me pause to think of the dear people, the relationships, the national identity, the culture, and individual hopes that seem to be figuratively bleeding out internally one small cut at a time. As I pray about them I am often puzzled. Even though I may not give voice to my internal questioning the Spirit within me hears the inevitable sigh, “Why?” While reading Hosea’s story in the Old Testament where the prophet is commanded to marry an unfaithful and promiscuous woman I find myself imagining the thousand tiny cuts inflicted on Hosea's heart even as he obeys. Then I personally know some hemorrhaging from similar wounds. What believer has not vicariously found themselves stepping into Hosea or Job’s sandals in times of personal pain?
Then there are the many young people I know who purposefully cut themselves in a comforting ‘external-blood-letting’ with razor blades, pins, or blades. It breaks my heart, but according to recent statistics about 17% of all people will self-harm during their lifetime. The average age of the first incident of self-harm is 13 and 45% of people will use cutting as their method of self-injury. About 50% of people seek help for their self-harm but only from friends instead of professionals which often only increases cutting incidents. (cf: Leviticus 19:28; 1 Kings 18:28; Mark 5:2-5)
Regardless of the state of our soul or questions I find one comfort remains - we can say of our Lord, “You have searched me, Lord, and You know me.” (Psalm 139:1) While not diminishing our personal desire to investigate His permissive will in our lives, we do find release to offer - “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4) And to know, “…the Lord binds up the bruises of His people and heals the wounds He inflicted.” (Isaiah 30:26)
Hosea may not have understood God’s instruction or the full purpose of the pain introduced by an adulterous spouse and at least three children of adultery, but He knew God understood. You may have heard phrases such as “you don’t understand me” or “you just don’t know” uttered by individuals who feel misunderstood or unnoticed. However, you can never say those things to God! He fully knows us and is filled with an unfathomable “designer love” for us. He said of Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (1:5) and “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” (31:3) Even with our mistakes, flaws, secrets and pain that God knows everything about, and still adores us. He does not see us and think that we are no longer worthy, or that we are too weird, too broken, too crazy, too flakey, or too needy. He still accepts us, knowing who we are.
So regardless of where we feel the ‘thousand tiny cuts’ we can trust that God is for us and not against us. He heals, He strengthens, and He gives a greater-than the pain purpose which one day He will reveal. Our command is to simply, “…‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37)