made perfect through suffering

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.  Hebrews 2:10

photo:  Andy Bruner

photo:  Andy Bruner

I find this idea totally fascinating, that Jesus was made perfect by suffering.  

Matthew 6:34 and Matthew 9:36 both say that when Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

Of course Jesus came here out of love, right?  But when he saw the crowds, he had compassion.  

As if something new happened right then, as if there was a difference for Jesus between suffering in the abstract and suffering in the concrete, suffering with a face and a name.

Many of us have found this for ourselves: the actual experience of suffering--our own suffering, the suffering of others--changes us.

I used to think that my job was to figure everything out perfectly, theologically speaking, and then hold my ground no matter what.

And then suffering happened.  

And it changed me.

And suffering keeps happening--to me, to those I love.

And it keeps changing me.

Butterflies fascinate me that way.  They're perfectly great caterpillars, but then they change, by turning into butterfly soup, which sounds pretty suffering-ish to me.  

Maybe this is how it's supposed to be:  that we change through the experiences we have.  Maybe the most profoundly and beautifully in the difficult experiences.

If Jesus was made perfect through suffering, maybe I'm being changed on purpose too.

It's painful, this suffering and this change.  It's scary and soupy.

But over time, here on the inside, the change feels like shackles falling down, a release of anxiety about rules and regulations, a growing freedom of grace and peace for myself and other people.

It feels like a way to fly free on new wings.

I don't really understand how suffering made Jesus perfect.  How can perfect be made perfect?  That's a mystery.  

I just know how suffering is changing me, when I let it.  

It feels like the fulfillment of that promise in Revelation:  "Behold, I am making all things new."  (Revelation 21:5)

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