There is not one person in this world who has not experienced any degree of suffering that has hurt them emotionally and physically. There is not one person in this world who has not, filed away in their past, things that they wish had never happened - things that have changed their life, things that they have carried with them to the present. And there is not one person in this world who lacks that certain "tic," the uncontrollable itch inside of them, a weakness attributed to them since birth. A weakness that is hidden within the skin of our flesh, a truth deep within our nature to which others can not clearly see.
I listened to a presentation by a man named Marc Elliot, who talked with us about this idea of suffering which he experienced in a certain way. He asked the question, "What makes you Tic?" What is that little itch inside of you that causes you to act uncontrollably? What unique weakness do you have that you are self-conscious about every day you wake up in the morning? What sufferings do you encounter that not everyone around you fully understands?
For twenty years, Marc Elliot had a serious itch. This was no normal skin itch that we experience on a day-to-day basis. It was an itch of the mind that led him to speak and act in ways he could never control. In order to satisfy the desires of his itch, Marc would utter obscene and offensive words to others, chatter his teeth with small "barks," and make the riskiest moves possible, all the while apologizing to strangers for such rude behavior. He told them that he had Tourette's syndrome and that yelling swear words to ease this itch was his body's way of coping with the syndrome.
However, Marc did not define himself as "one having Tourette's syndrome." Rather, he acknowledged the fact that that was just who he is. He is Marc.
Marc continued to tell story after story about his various interactions with people who became uncomfortable being around him. In addition to having Tourette's syndrome, Marc also had an intestinal disease that left him with only four feet of small intestine, numerous embarrassing trips to the restroom, and five to eight strong bowel movements per day. He was embarrassed by these two weaknesses while growing more aware of the intolerance not only from the people around him but from himself and how he thought of himself.
We know as much as everyone around us the sufferings we face, because we all share in this result of sin in many different ways. We try to put a box around the "tics" inside, yet they still push through. We also ignore those "tics" of other people, judging them for their weaknesses instead of showing human kindness that heals. Not only do we neglect to love others, but we also neglect to love our God who created and redeemed us and who shares in our suffering.
While thinking about this message of the inner struggles of our lives, I couldn't help but connect it to the idea of Law and Gospel. The Old Adam in us is bound by sin, stricken by the condemnation of eternal death, and beaten by the curse begun in the Garden of Eden. The original sin inherited by birth leads us into committing actions we can never dismiss. The Law is always broken. Sin is always present. It is a part of us; it is a weakness that we struggle with every single day.
Yet God in his love sent His Son to be our Savior, to take upon human flesh in order that this Law would be fulfilled in the person of Christ. His one and only Son died on the cross and rose again for our justification. He made us his own by graciously receiving us into his kingdom that we might live forever. This incarnate Lamb of God comes to us in His Word, proclaiming forgiveness for the sins we commit, for all those sins of neglect toward others in their sufferings and for all those times we neglect to realize who we are because of Christ.
We might not know everything about each other's lives, but we do know that we are sinners in need of Christ's forgiveness. The sin that "tics" inside of us can only be suppressed by the proclamation of justification by grace through faith in Christ alone. In Christ, we may stand out and look foolish to the world, but with the Gospel we have the privilege to live as a beacon of light to the world that shines on others with the grace of God's love shown on the cross by Christ's human suffering. This ultimate suffering saves us who are weak so that we may live eternally in heaven when all of our "tics" will be no more. What a joy for us Christians to possess now as we live in this promise of eternal life!
Bethany Woelmer is a member at Faith Lutheran Church in Plano, TX.
Created: July 7th, 2015