The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her.
-1 Samuel 11:2-3
Everyday she is filled with the wisdom she wishes she could wash away.
I heard that phrase a few weeks ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. I think it’s shaping me slowly toward Jesus.
Bathsheba lived near King David’s residence, and when he saw her bathing, he decided that he wanted her and took her as if she was his (by the way- David was on the roof, Bathsheba wasn't. Leonard Cohen is responsible for that male-centric misconception). We know little else about that night. We don’t know if she was unaware or aware of his eyes on her from the palace. All we know is that David’s actions led to deceit, a murdered husband, a tragic child, multiple deaths, and long-term heartache. It's horrible. Recently I listened to someone explore the journey of Bathsheba. Little is written about her emotions because she is simply a side character, which is often the case in stories of power, lust and corruption. But as the story was told from her perspective, we imagined another bath, months or years later, as Bathsheba washed away the dirt of the day, unwillingly recalling the similar night that her life changed forever.
“Everyday she is filled with the wisdom she wishes she could wash away.” *
What a statement, full of sorrow and truth. We have all experienced this on some level. We have been through things we wish we could undo. Moments that opened our eyes in a new way- a way we never asked for or desired. Loss and loss of innocence. Pain of body and pain of spirit. Others have done things to us that leave a mark forever. We’ve made major mistakes ourselves. And sometimes we’ve experienced heartache through no one’s fault, because life is difficult and everyone suffers.
This is where wisdom grows, even if we wish it didn’t.** We understand and feel things in a way we didn’t before. In a way, it feels as if the the rose colored glasses have been removed. And it’s ok to acknowledge both the wisdom gained, and the desire to still live in ignorance. But how do we move forward as disciples when we have learned wisdom we wish we could wash away? I think it involves embracing that uncomfortable tension.
Understand that Jesus is in touch with our pain. Jesus knows the human journey, full of complex emotions, joy, sorrow, betrayal, frustration, and confusion. When our heart breaks, so does his. We are not alone. Therefore, our pain can actually be seen as a connection point where we can relate to Jesus and he can relate to us. This brings hope.
Understand that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. Many times we wish we could forget back the most devastating moments in our lives. That’s so understandable. Yet the core of God’s redemptive nature is that the wisdom gained there can change lives. We can choose to push that deep within us and not use it, or we can embrace the things we’ve learned and let them build in us compassion and care for others. Perhaps a low season of your life began to turn when you found that someone else understood what you were walking through. Now, God may open doors for you to change another’s life because you can empathize in a way few others can, and offer encouragement when they are walking through a dark valley. Perhaps your pain has given you a greater appreciation for each day, or a deeper conviction to trust Jesus moment by moment. These are things we can share with each other. God does not bring evil our way… but God does indeed overcome evil with good as we keep on the path of life. You have so much to offer.
We can make a choice of what we will do with wisdom we wish we hadn’t gained. We can forever grip it with shame and defeat. Or we can respond to the invitation of Jesus to keep walking into grace, hope and compassion that can only come through painful wisdom.
Jesus, we are wiser, but wounded. Meet us here today, and shape us into something meaningful for our world.
*Thanks to Laura Buffington for this phrase.
**I’m not suggesting that Bathsheba, nor anyone should be thankful for wrongs done to them. But I am suggesting her pain (or others’) does not disqualify her in any way from being used by God. Quite the opposite.