Matt Chandler once said that we get sick to remind us that this is not our home. When I heard that, I was sick, which I find myself quite often, with two littles in my care and a bad exercise regimen. So I was struck by his statement: first with conviction that I complain, whine and wallow in sickness too much, and second with annoyance. Being sick does not “stir my affections for Jesus Christ” (this is Matt Chandler’s favorite phrase). It makes me put off Bible study, because my head is too foggy to read. When my children are sick, all their advancements in behavior go backwards 10 steps. Sickness is just time wasted, it seems.
If that’s true, our whole family just wasted two weeks.
All four of us were sick. At some point over the last two weeks, we have hacked and coughed through the night, sounded like frogs, lathered on and breathed in essential oils, used three boxes of tissues, swallowed spoonfuls of honey, used inhalers and succumbed to the need for antibiotics.
Chris missed two days worth of networking opportunities with NW pastors first because he was home taking care of me and two sick kids, then because he was sick himself. We both missed a date night that would have enabled us to hear our mission agency’s president speak. Prior to the event, I was really looking forward to this spiritual kick in the pants. All of our daily tasks took a backseat to surviving, especially because Susanna doesn’t seem to miss a beat when she’s sick. She just powers through with double the grumpies.
Now that we are coming out of the fog, on Easter weekend to boot, I am realizing I got my spiritual kick in the pants.
We don’t have Easter baskets. I don’t have a new outfit or a new haircut or even painted fingernails (these things are usually important to me, on Easter). My kids will look adorable, but it’s not because they’ll be wearing an Easter dress or a vest and jacket, which I certainly wasn’t able to go out and buy. They have outfits knitted with love by their grandma. This means more to me than any flowered dress I could pick out. We don’t even have Easter dinner plans. We were too sick to make them.
Today, and every day by God’s grace, we celebrate the day Jesus Christ literally came back to life. After excruciating suffering and death on a cross to satisfy the required payment for everything that was, is and ever will be wrong with the world, Jesus walked out of the grave. So He made the payment, and then He closed the books, so that payment would never be required again.
Best of all, He had no regrets. If it happened today, He’d say, “that was totally worth it.”
There is a lot wrong in my world. At the front of my mind: a lot of people I love are sick. Sick to the point of death, if I’m honest.
Jesus understands this. Not tritely, either. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus went to pray and he asked his disciples to keep watch and pray themselves. “Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’” (Matthew 26:36-39)
Jesus understands. That has been my mantra this week. When the baby only slept 30 minutes at a time, when my normally sweet little girl threw her body to the ground in tantrum, when Chris and I collapsed from fatigue throughout the day, when I lost hours of sleep sitting upright on the couch trying to calm my cough, I would remind myself, Jesus knows. He understands and He is with me.
It’s Resurrection Sunday, not a parade for perfect-looking families in matching clothes. It’s the Day Death Died, not a day for finding eggs and wearing bunny ears. It’s a day to celebrate, but I know, and Jesus knows, that sometimes you don’t feel like celebrating. That’s ok. He understands. He once suffered unbearably and came through victorious. Whatever is wrong in your world today, give it to Jesus. He can make enduring your trial totally worth it, and for those who trust Him, He offers eternal life free of suffering. This life isn’t easy, but it can be filled with hope. My week was not easy, but I am filled with hope.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. 6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. (Romans 5)