Have you ever had a stretch of time when you’ve been overwhelmed with the suffering going on around you? Loaded with prayer requests? Last night, I was feeling literally weighed down by all of the bad news I’ve been inundated with as of late – so much sadness in this world and in my community. I had to crawl out of all of this darkness and into the light of hope.
One friend is beginning intense chemotherapy after a mastectomy. Another friend was just diagnosed with breast cancer. She will have a double mastectomy. She has four very young children. Another friend has a grown child who is battling alcoholism and addiction. Her family feels helpless and heartbroken. Another friend is in bed, face down, trying to help a detached retina to heal. A neighbor’s marriage is crumbling. A former student at our school was in remission from brain cancer for nine years. Her cancer has returned with a vengeance. A teen’s suicide attempt failed (Thank God!), but the child now needs lots of help. The list goes on and on. So many people are hurting. Many ask, “Why?” I do not know. All I do know is that God loves us, and has our best interest at heart – our eternal interest. I’ve got to trust in that knowledge.
I have a few favorite meditations I like to use for different situations in my life. I close my eyes and envision myself beside Christ’s manger in the joyful times. I picture myself in the Garden of Gethsemane at that rock beside Jesus when I’m feeling very anxious. I think about holding Jesus’ crucified body in my arms when I’m very sad.
This morning I woke up, let the dog out, and crawled back in the bed. I sat up and closed my eyes. I laid all of my sadness and friends’ prayer requests at the foot of Jesus’ cross. In my mind’s eye, I watched Him take his last breath. I felt hot tears roll down my cheeks. I saw the soldier pierce Jesus’ side. After some time, a man came and cut the body of Jesus loose from the cross. Jesus’ lifeless body slumped down into my arms as I knelt upon the dusty ground. I gently brushed the hair out of Jesus’ blood encrusted face. I saw His beautiful, tender eyes swollen shut – His nose disfigured and wet with sweat. I took a handkerchief and wiped His wounds softly. Tears from my face spilled upon His, and I continued to tend to his wounds. I begged His forgiveness – for my sins that did this to Him – for my ungratefulness, my lukewarmness – for all who do not love Him as they should – including myself. As I held His head and shoulders in my lap, I pulled Him to my chest and rocked gently back and forth. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry…”
As I spent this precious quiet time with my Savior, my Hero, my Lord, I realized that pain is part of the human condition. Jesus in His humanity suffered greatly – in body and in mind. In His Divinity, He conquered all. Life is hard – sometimes it seems unbearable. It is during these times that Christ’s carries us. He cries with us. He’s been in our shoes. He can offer us peace throughout our times of suffering if we draw near to Him. He has promised never to leave us alone. I’ve got to cling simply to Him and press onward in Hope! I can’t even consider the alternative.
From today’s gospel: ” Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11: 28