It’s been quite an interesting time in my ‘quiet life’ lately. Not exactly quiet. If you’ve been reading the blog already (or are a friend) you will know that my father had an accident last month and broke a vertebra (but with no spinal cord damage, for which we are grateful) and eight ribs and punctured his lung. He subsequently had complications and last week was back in hospital for further surgery on his lung. To further complicate matters, my mother’s health started to seriously deteriorate and she is now in hospital waiting for surgery on her spine.
Now I don’t want you to think I am complaining or writing this just to get your sympathy. One of the reasons I have stayed here in Tasmania is so that I can look after my parents should anything happen to them. I am really sure I am where I’m supposed to be and I am so grateful to be able to do the little I can to help them out. In addition, we have all felt so supported by family and friends that in one way this has been a wonderful time of feeling loved and cared for. And I know that there are many people going through similar or even much harder situations right at this moment.
Nevertheless there is a fair bit of ‘emotional heavy lifting’ as my sister put it, going on for me.
I heard a song (‘Hey There’ by Karyn Williams) while driving the other day and the words have been running through my head on and off since then:
He knows right where you are
And what you’re going through
He knows everything you feel
Because he felt it too
The words really made me think, ‘Did Jesus feel this way? Does he know how I feel?’
Does he know how it feels to have two ill parents? Does he know how it feels to have to work, look after my family and keep house, look after my parents, and keep things running and under control and in some semblance of normal while in the midst of constant crises? Does he know about the constant need to communicate via social media, email and phone with so many people, to keep them all in touch with the constantly changing situation? Does he know about the love and the hurt and the fear and the wish that I could take my mother’s place so that she wouldn’t have to be in this constant pain?
Now I am not a theologian but I think that it is generally held that Joseph (Jesus’ earthly father) had died by the time Jesus started his ministry. So Jesus had lived through perhaps his earthly father’s illness, perhaps sudden accidental death. Jesus does know what it is like to lose a father. I haven’t lost my father, although I have to say that it’s been a bit scary at times over the last month. But thinking it through, Jesus has been where I am, he knows what this feels like.
How about Jesus’ relationship with his mother? Now they had their problems – there’s a stage in Jesus life where we’re pretty sure that Mary and Jesus’ brothers came to tell him to stop doing what he’s doing. (‘He’s not the Messiah – he’s just a very naughty boy’) And Jesus responded by ignoring her! (Matthew 12)
But when we look at Jesus on the cross, we see a very different relationship. Jesus was well aware that his mother was alone and that he, as the eldest son, had a responsibility to her. He also knew that he could no longer look after her in any way and that she was now even more alone than she had been in her life.
So there he was, suffering the most unbearable anguish that the Roman forces could dream up, not to mention the emotional and spiritual pain that he was going through, and his thoughts went out to his mother (John 19). He saw near her a disciple who he loved, someone he trusted, and he said to his Mum ‘Woman, here is your son’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother’. He did not want her to be alone and he made sure, in his great time of crisis, that there was someone there to take care of her. This is normal love, love of a son for his mother, magnified.
Meditating on the care that Jesus had for his mother at that time makes me think that, yes, he knows what I am going through. He knows what I am feeling – he has felt it too. In fact, his pain was so much greater, his love so much greater, my situation pales next to his greatness. And there is so much comfort in knowing, that he knows. He knows.
Another song that has run through my head for days is ‘Shoulders’ by For King and Country:
My help comes from you
You’re right here pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on your shoulders
My help comes from you
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that you’re lifting me up on your shoulders
It has been a pretty constant prayer for me. A good way to start each morning. A reminder that I’m not doing this by myself. I am so grateful for the God who has been there, who knows, and who is my comfort, my rest, my rescue.
If you are going through difficulties right now, I hope that you also can find comfort in knowing that Jesus knows what you are going through, he cares and he can be your help and your rest.