Our Suffering compared to a Tickle

In my latest post titled “Favorite Lewis Quote #4 – God’s Megaphone”, I used a fictional dialogue between a Dad and his son, along with the metaphor of “tickling“, as a way of understanding or categorizing suffering in the life of a believer.  I would like to use this post to provide a few “keys” to understanding that dialogue.

1 – Our Suffering compared to Christ’s – In some ways it may be a little dangerous to use the metaphor of “tickling” to represent suffering, because some may see it as a way of trivializing or making light of the pain of others.  Please do not misunderstand.  I do not in any way intend to communicate suffering as a triviality.  There are people in the world who are going through a tremendous amount of agony and affliction.  However, in comparison to the suffering of Christ, our suffering, no matter how monumental, is a mere tickle.  Ultimately, our suffering should be compared to Christ’s only in as much as a flash-light should be compared to the sun.

2 – Hands: A different language, an intimate language – The very same hands that cause suffering or “tickling” are also the hands that are used to communicate.  In the dialogue, a little boy describes a girl in his class, Jenny, who is deaf and cannot hear words.  In fact, she is a student in an entirely deaf class.  So, in order to communicate, Jenny and her class have learned to “hear” words spoken by hands.  The little girl has been taught a new language – sign language.  But, the little boy says that, in order to “hear” this language, you have to stay close.  You cannot understand sign language if you are too far away or if you are not paying attention. In like fashion, when Jesus speaks, he uses a different language than the world.  His words are counter-intuitive to ours.  So we must learn his language. The point here is that God’s Word cannot be understood without Jesus to teach it to us and show us what it means.  Christ teaches us this language in close proximity to himself, so we cannot learn it unless we draw near; and we must stay near to him in order to continue to understand.

3 – The Trust/Bond of tickling and suffering – “Tickling” is defined by many child psychologists as an integral bonding activity between parents and children. I recall that when my children were small, they loved to be tickled by me.  They could never get enough.  “Try and tickle me Papa” was their constant challenge.  They would purposely do all that they could to bate me into becoming “the tickle monster.”   Besides being a lot fun, psychologists say that these tickling games establish the pleasure associated with being rightfully touched by a parent and it works to develop a trust-bond between parent and child.  It is vital that this trust bond be imprinted upon the child so that when a parent must interact with him in an unpleasant way, as in treating a painful injury or preventing harm or danger, the trust bond will be maintained.  In the dialogue, the little boy wants to know how his father would “keep a child safe from running out into traffic?”  The Dad’s answer is that, prior to that moment, he would tickle that little boy with his hands, so that later on, when the moment arises, the child will be so closely bonded with those hands that he will be constantly looking at them, he will innately trust them, and understand the message that they are sending.

4 – Red Gloves, Red Hands, and Suffering as God’s Megaphone – In the dialogue, when Jenny’s class lets out after school, the deaf children go outside together to be picked up by parents and buses.  The son says that this can be a dangerous time – kids could possibly be hit by a car.  To help with this, Jenny’s teacher wears “red” gloves as a way of commanding attention.  The symbol here is obvious – Jesus’ hands are “red” with blood. And with these “red hands” Christ tickles us – he invites us to share in his sufferings. Jesus’ hands of suffering, his suffering and ours, are the megaphone that wakes up an apathetic world.  Jesus speaks to us clearly and loudly with these red hands. In the Bible, Jesus shows these hands to Thomas.  They are hands that healed.  They are hands that bled. His hands are hands that we can trust.  Hands we need to see. They are intimate hands.  I once heard a sermon by E.V. Hill that said, “Christian maturity is learning to trust the Lord’s heart, when you cannot trace his hand.”  Sometimes God’s hands do things and ordain things that I do not understand, yet, if I have bonded to his hands and understood them, if his hands have loved me, and taught me, and tickled me, then I will continue to trust those hands when they do something that cause my suffering.

If you didn’t quite get it the first time, with these things in mind, please go back and browse through the post again.  You can find it by clicking HERE.  I welcome any questions you might have!

By the way, it looks as though I may have two kidney stones, not just one.  I feel like I am very close to passing one of them.  It’s been working on me since four o’clock this morning.

4 thoughts on “Our Suffering compared to a Tickle

  1. Tim, remember that in the exact context of your post, God is tickling you even though you may not see His hand concerning your stones. I can see the application of this in so many ways in all of our lives. I think the KEY is to have been close enough to God that we can reach out and hold His hand at any point or to never let go of that hand, but we all know that we do let go at times. Stay familiar with the TICKLING HANDS so that when we lose sight of the hand we can know that it is still there. Love you much, brother,


    • Larry, so true! And it is so comforting to know that when we do lose sight of his hand…even when we let go of him, he never lets go of us. It encourages me to know that you have related to these posts. I know very few people who have gone through as much suffering as you have, and yet, the growth of your faith in the midst of it has been absolutely remarkable. Thank you for being such a constant source of Christian cheer even in the midst of your pain.


    I looked up some scriptures on suffering that came to mind when I read your post. I know you love the word and I pray they will minister to you in your suffering,,, as you may know it is not easy for me to share scripture because I’ve seen it used as a weapon too many times. Please know that I share these only to confirm what I know you already know! I love you dearly and I love it that the main one I was thinking of came from the man you are named after!

    2 Timothy 2:12 (King James Version)
    If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

    Romans 5:3
    Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance;

    Romans 8:17
    Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

    Romans 8:18
    I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

    2 Corinthians 1:8
    We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.

    Philippians 1:29
    For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him,

    Philippians 3:10
    I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

    1 Peter 2:21
    To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    1 Peter 4:1
    Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

    1 Peter 4:12
    Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

    1 Peter 5:10
    And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.


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