Typical of little people, my children have both believed in the power of a Band-aid. Not just for broken skin, band-aids are requested for all kinds of boo-boos. Bug bites, scratches, or burns, and bruises, soreness, or bumps — the act of adding a bandage has magical powers to soothe. It’s not just band-aids either, “Boo-Boo Bears,” ice, and a cold cup of milk are also known to salve the troubles of little people.
The seeming universality of these powers is remarkable, but it’s not like it’s completely innate. I’ve seen parents and caretakers pull all kinds of tricks out of their sleeves to distract and comfort kids: bribes, blowing, jokes, re-direction, or kisses. What percentage of it is simply distracting them from the pain and discomfort until they can calm down versus the comfort of knowing there is help for me, I don’t know, but I tend to think it’s tipped toward the latter. Kids need to know that someone cares and that someone is there to help in some way — make it better, if they can. The band-aid, kiss, or candy is more like the tangible expression of the idea that it’s going to be OK.
As an adult, I’ve learned a few tricks to comfort myself from pain and discomfort–some more helpful than others. All too often, I go towards distraction: somehow it’s easier for me to cry for Rebecca on This is Us than to cry for myself, or to keep ice cream stocked in the freezer rather than scheduling a walk or a call with a friend. Even when I take my pain to God, I often expect (demand) Him to fix it somehow. I need a band-aid, God — something magic to make this stop.
I forget what I know as a parent — it’s not the act of blowing/kissing/putting a band-aid on the hurt, so much as the presence and care of the one who comforts.
“What do you want more: to be fixed or Me?” This is the question a co-worker shared in a devotional to a group several years ago. It was a question she’d sensed God asking her in the midst of some challenging circumstances. It was a life-changing question for me because I’d never realized that this is a question we face all the time. Daily, if not moment by moment.
Sadly, I have to admit that my honest answer is often, just fix it, Jesus! The job, the spouse, the child, the money, the illness, the unknown — I want it to be fixed. I want to be well. If those are my options, I want to be fixed.
But like all idolatry, upon closer inspection, wanting “fixing” more than Jesus cannot deliver on its shiny promises. Is there any real comfort without Jesus? Can there be wellness without the Physician?
Of course we want to be well and whole and restored. We want that because we were made to want Jesus and His peaceable kingdom! We long for the day when blind can see, sick are made well, crooked things are made straight, and foreigners are welcomed home. We long for that because we long for God and we are made in His image.
One day, His kingdom will come as it is in Heaven. Until then, the peace and wellness that we experience will only ever be partial foretastes of that ultimate reality.
We live in a world where there are so many hurts for which there just aren’t magical band-aids or boo-boo bears.
There is Someone who cares, who is present, who sees, understands, and comforts. Despite what we’re tempted to believe will fix it, His presence is the comfort we truly long for. The shalom we were created for. When we go to Him we can know, band-aid or not and come what may, we will be OK.