Faith, Jesus, Keeping the Faith

Why We’re So Intrigued By Injury

Every parent knows that a Bandaid on a child is so much more than an adhesive strip to mop up blood and keep dirt out of a scrape. The power of these magical stickers should never be underestimated. What’s more, the colourful cartoon characters printed on the more expensive varieties are a novelty du force.

The humble Bandaid is a gallant defender of the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ maxim that most parents cling to. Have you noticed how the fine motor skills required to tear open the packet, peel away the fiddly leaves and then smooth the apparatus across the lesion without touching the site of grief brings a beautiful distraction from the trauma of the incident itself?

Wonderful invention.

But the most perplexing result is observed beyond adult supervision, in the playground, with another little mate seated beside. They are peeling the Bandaid away to, “Come look!” and “Awww!” and to boast “I cut it on dad’s fishing lure!”

Yep. There’s the little blubbering mess suddenly dry-eyed, ripping off the dressing to show his oozy, bleeding wound.

It’s what I call the intrigue of injury.

The phenomenon continues into adulthood when we crane our necks to see where the careening ambulance is headed.

We sit wide-eyed in front of TV shows that flay flesh and bare bone so we can be voyeurs to injury.

The most read stories are those that expose personal injury – testimonies of hardship and pain. The stories of people who escaped war with atrocious injuries, of cancer battlers, people who have lost everything they ever owned to bushfire or natural disaster and others who have been targets of unthinkable acts of terrorism. We feed on the details like so many flies to rancid meat.

Why is that?

It’s like we’re searching, burrowing through gizzards in the off chance that somewhere in the offal is the answer to it all. Am I more than a lump of flesh? Is there hope?

So once we satisfy our curiosity of injury with the aesthetic details, we progress to the deep: how did they cope (or did they cope at all)?

We love to hear redemptive stories of reparation and healing. They give us hope. They tell us that our (usually comparably minor) issues can flower into beauty.

I think that’s why Jesus’ story continues to be told more than 2000 years after he walked the earth. He was born to die. There was a macabre, horror-plot undercurrent to his 33 years of existence, knowing that he would die young – a long and painful death. After his resurrection, Jesus showed Thomas his scars, invited him to prod his wounds to allay doubt.

“Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” (John 20:27)

Often our stories are about personal endurance, sacrifice, accomplishment and tenacity. Jesus’ hardship had the same hallmarks but with absolutely no personal gain. He did it entirely for us, so that we would have all the benefit.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17-18)

At any point, Jesus could have said, “Stop!” He chose death so that we would have life. There’s no greater story.

Jesus invites our intrigue of his injury.

When we peel away the Bandaid and ask deeper questions of our existence, God is there. Prodding at the injury of mortality can be painful and disruptive, but Jesus is the great healer.

First published in The Examiner Newspaper for Keeping the Faith column on Monday January 4, 2016.