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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Christ's Passion for Our Griefs

Treasured friends,

With Good Friday (and then Easter) soon approaching, I've been turning my attention to the way God revealed Christ's passion to the prophet Isaiah hundreds of years before Jesus' birth. It's a familiar passage in Isaiah 53, but one I believe has special devotional relevance to us as caregivers -- who daily work to assuage another's pains, all the while battling our own griefs, sorrows, disappointments, agonies, and illnesses.

Listen, weary caregiver, to how closely Jesus identified with your circumstances while His body was being torn to shreads by the stripes, while His life-blood was spattering down, while He gasped for each fleeting breath. I'll use the HCSB translation, which may sound a little different from the one you've heard or read for years. (I do this intentionally, because sometimes reading the same truth with a different cadence arrests our attention and envelopes us in old truth from a new perspective.)

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like someone people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him.
Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted.
But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.
We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the LORD has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:3-6, HCSB)

When my pastor preached on this passage recently, he keyed in on the fact that as Isaiah prophecied this event, he mentioned our sicknesses and pains early on. This is significant, he said, letting us see how closely Jesus identified with us at our weakest points of human suffering. He knew what sickness was!

As He took the stripes and felt the nails tear into His flesh, Jesus felt the exhaustion of every home-tied caregiver whose back aches from lifting her parent from bed to wheelchair. He felt the shreading sorrow of the long goodbye dementia patients and their loved ones endure. He felt the grief of death's separation. He felt the uncertainty you're experiencing as you're doing your best for your parent but you fear your best may not be nearly enough.

He felt it, He bore it for us, and He offers hope through His resurrection that in His bearing these griefs and sorrows, there will be a day when we will know what is already known in the realms of Eternity ... sorrow, sighing, tears, and pain have all been swept away by the flow of His precious blood down that awful cross and into the desert sands outside Jerusalem that day.

Yes, have all been swept away. What we're experiencing here, though it feels so permanent, so real, so absolutely endless, is more like an evaporating vapor than a concrete reality, at least from Heaven's perspective. Through the prophet God speaks what will be as if it already had been--by His stripes, we are healed.

So, as we go about our caregiving this day, my prayer is that each of us will try on this Heavenly reality for size--not only is Christ side-by-side with us in our most grievous tasks, but He has already conquered them for every believer who trusts in Him for ultimate and complete salvation.

May these truths comfort and strengthen you for the day's tasks.

Easter Blessings,

Julie

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