“And how did little Tim behave?” asked Mrs. Cratchit, when she had rallied Bob on his credulity and Bob had hugged his daughter to his heart’s content.
As good as gold,” said Bob, “and better. Somehow he gets thoughtful sitting by himself so much, and thinks the strangest things you ever heard. He told me, coming home, that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he was a cripple, and it might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.
from The Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.
I sat by the computer Sunday as the first snowstorm covered my little world, and read an update from a missionary friend in faraway hot India. Friends had just asked her help with a three day old baby in a nearby village. He was born without lower arms or lower legs. He is the fifth child in the family and they aren’t sure they will keep him.
My emotions swirled like the snow outside the window. My older children played busily around me as I nursed the baby. The two year old drove matchbox cars over my shoulder. The house was a mess, true, but air warmed by the wood stove carried the scent of roasting chicken. My husband was at work, but he would be home to say goodnight after earning his paycheck. Coats and mittens dripped steamily by the fire, adding moisture to the air and giving reason for the rosy cheeks bent over Legos nearby. Christmas cards and a list of cookies to bake were scattered across the table among flash cards.
That old adage tapped gently at my memory, “I felt sorry that I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” We have our struggles, but the road even my young son must walk so falteringly in his braces is easy compared to the uphill battle that little infant almost-orphan on the other side of the world will face.
And I asked Him, not for the first time, or even the hundredth, “Why?”
“Why would You have this baby be born in a third world country?”
“Why to parents who might not keep him?”
“Why would You make him be born like this at all?”
“Why would You make a baby born to be ridiculed, rejected, misunderstood… Why would you make a baby born to hurt or even born to die?”
The baby on my own lap stirred and snuggled deeper. The two year old next to me picked up one of his feelingless feet with both hands to move it away from the baby’s head. He reached over and silently patted his little brother’s ear. A tear sprang to my eye at a sudden realization. It was love.
That Love had already sent a Baby born to die. He’d sent His only Son, His beloved, perfect Son, to a stark, cold, heartless world to have a body broken. He’d given him a body born to bear the full brunt of the ravages of sin. This one, this Lamb slain from the foundations of the world, was born to show his Father’s love to sin-damaged humanity. Nails sliced through his own arms and legs, forcing his body hard against the rough cross. And Love held him there.
Will this little baby boy, born so far from me but for whom I ache, know that he bears in his own body the marks of the Lord Jesus Himself? Will he learn that someday he can be given a new body, hale and whole, to run and clap and dance, for all eternity long? Will he boast that he is one of the few chosen to bear from birth the mark of his Savior? Will he find the answer to his question, why?
I think about these babies often. Physically crippled; is it so that their souls will be more whole? Or mine? Will I remember, on Christmas Day, WHO made lame beggars walk and blind men see? And will I trust that He will do it again someday?
Someday I, too, will understand why He would show His love by sending these Tiny Tims among us. Like Mr. Dickens said, it’ll be as good as gold – and better.