The assignment from my wonderful hubby was simple but not necessarily easy. "Give it to God and go to sleep."
Thankful for the reminder to point me toward Christ's finished work, I fell asleep to the words that I had cried out.
Lord, I sure need some thick skin right about now.
I have learned something life-changing in the past three years. When the pain of life stings you, take it to Father. It's been a massive revelation.
And so, this morning, I asked Father a critical follow-up question. "What does my relationship with you have to do with thick skin? Where are you in this whole idea of not allowing pain to color my entire day?"
I thought about the meaning of the word "skin." What is skin? My, the thoughts you have at 5:30 in the morning while emptying the dishwasher with a migraine.
Skin. Hmm…what does the word really mean?
The first thing that came to mind was "a covering." But I wanted to make sure, so I went to the experts. No, not Wikipedia. Usually, I consult Webster, but lately, Word Hippo is my go-to, so I took off there on a wild goose chase.
Father handed me a gift in the primary definition.
- (uncountable) The outer protective layer of the body of any animal, including of a human.
My spirit inside started to roused with excitement. Am I on to something, Father?
What covers me and protects me? Easy. Christ!
I am in Christ, and Christ is in me. It's a two-for-one double entendre. [Thank you to my living dictionary friend for introducing me to this word. You know who you are. I am using it all over the place now. But for the life of me, I can't even remember how to spell it. I must look it up every time.]
What does the fact that I am in Christ and Christ is in me have to do with thick skin? Allow me to remind myself what it doesn't mean.
I do not have to develop a thick skin in my own strength.
Always having been a sensitive person, I could almost always count on hearing those dreaded remarks.
"Boy, you're so sensitive." "Stop caring so much." "You need to learn to grow some thicker skin."
And just how do you go about doing that?
Even so, I would try. Hint, this does not ever end up well.
That thick skin I've always tried to grow by emotionally withholding myself, judging others, or guarding myself against pain never ultimately works.
Why? Because all I'm trying to do is manufacture a covering and plaster it on my outside instead of realizing, "I already have the thick skin." I just don't remember where it is found and what it is—Jesus Christ.
I once explained this concept to a friend in the following way.
John 14:20 tells us, "I (Christ) am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you."
Umm…what? How can Christ be in me, but at the same time, I am in Him?
That's a mystery I intend to stand in line for in heaven. Asking me to understand is like asking my Miss Marley (a playful mini-Bernedoodle pup) to do algebra. She can't do it, and it will only frustrate the dog.
For now, though, I try to understand the conundrum as three various-sized envelopes. I have a model of this pictorial thought here in my office to remind myself of the truth.
Want to make one, too? First, gather three envelopes—small, medium, and large. Label the medium-sized envelope "Me." Then label the smaller one "Christ" and put it in the medium-sized one. That is Christ in you. Then mark the larger envelope "Christ" and put the medium-sized "Me" envelope (with the Christ in me) inside. Now you have one envelope. The "me" envelope is enclosed, or sandwiched inside, safe and secure.
In the same way, we can say we are sandwiched within Christ. Christ is the bread on the top and the bread on the bottom. We are held safely inside his surround.
Now think of this envelope sandwich as a dartboard. When flinging darts of hurt or pain come into your life, they first land on Christ, pass through you, and continue inside to the core of Christ.
I often hear people struggling with the question, "Why does God allow it?"
Sigh. I get it. It seems like He does allow some things and not other things, and surely that can be a troubling question inside. I just don't think it's the right question to ask, however. It is much more than "allowing" or "not allowing."
The better question to ask is, "What has the cross accomplished FOR us when trouble heads my way?
Christ beautifully took the ultimate hit for us while stretched out on the cross. He takes the impact now, too. Want to see it? Go ahead and throw a dart at the envelope. What takes the hit? The larger envelope. Christ! What was targeted for us is incurred by Christ. It pierces him first. He takes it in as the frontline.
Yes, it will then pass through us. Such is life—the Bible tells us this. We will not escape the trials and tribulations of this world. We will feel the pain of this world, but the intent is not for the pain to stop there. It goes further deeper and lodges into Christ and is absorbed into Him. He intends to carry it, giving us rest.
Furthermore, it's meant to STAY with him. In this way, Isaiah 53:4 comes to life when we read, "Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried."
"Christ in me" and "I am in Christ" are meant to take both the front of the attack and pain's final resting place.
Our thick skin is knowing who we are in Christ.
And as a Christian, you already have thick skin in the person of Jesus Christ.
Now, when the words hurt, when the situation is disappointing, or when you're being let down, remember that the pain first pierces Christ. Yes, you will feel its effects, but don't grab onto the dart and hold it inside, refusing to give it up. Let's not carry pain that is not ours. Let it pass through and go to the one meant to hold it and bear it—Jesus Christ IN you.
I am in Christ. Christ is in me. Both are important because one protects us from the piercing, and the other protects us from the lodging.
See the dart for what it is—an enemy attack. But Christ, the double entendre, catches hold of that projectile and carries it.
How do you handle enemy darts? I would love to continue the conversation below. Feel free to share on social media and sign up at the top of my blog's home page for future posts. Blessings!