It’s been eleven straight days of sickness for my family. My wife and both kids are currently taking antibiotics to rid their bodies of the green gunk that clogs their ears, nose, and sinuses. It’s been a messy and tiring week because life continues even when you’re sick. I’ve wanted life to stop, to press pause, and to resume only when we were back functioning at 100%. But for some reason that hasn’t happened.
I’ve taken lots of personality profile tests and assessments and have yet to see empathy crack into my list of strengths. Unfortunately, this becomes painfully obvious when others around me are sick. When I’m the lone man standing against my stuffy-nosed wife and two mucus hacking kids my patience tends to wear. At first it’s not too bad. I’m sympathetic and want to help care for my wife and kids. I don’t mind playing with them so that Liz can lie down and rest. I don’t mind fixing food, or picking up, or giving baths and medicine. I feel for them and I want to be the loving husband and father that I should be. But seven days later I find that I’m kind of done with this whole sickness routine. Surely these people are feeling better and ready to start pulling their weight again. After all I’ve sacrificed for the last few days, I now just want things to be normal again so I can pick up my routine, get back to the things I need to do. (I can see the head’s shaking in disgust and the fingers wagging at my selfishness.) Such is my weakness.
Don’t worry, I feel ashamed of my thoughts and my self-absorbed mentality. I don’t want to feel this way and I battle letting it leak out of my mind and into my actions and words, but sometimes it still shows up. My frustration at the situation just eats at me and I feel disappointed in myself. I’m not upset with my wife or kids but with the fact that our lives are not within our control and that this situation is something I can’t correct on my own. It makes me want to shut out everything and focus on me at the expense of others.
At the same time this whole ordeal has actually helped me to reflect more on God’s provision. Yes I have become more aware at my lack of empathy, but I’ve also found myself praising God that he has no such shortage. God sent his own Son to heal the sick, to make the lame to walk, to open the eyes of the blind. He sent his Son not to care for a small cold, but for a sick and dying world. And by becoming one of us, by being born a man, Jesus has experienced firsthand the deep needs of sick and ailing people, the foolish ideas and ways of the disciples, and the overwhelming arrogance of the Pharisees. And yet in all these situations he never walked away, never gave up on people, never gave up on his own task. He overcame all of the temptation to focus on himself and to put his needs or desires first. He loved and served others at great expense and without complaint. In the end he loved so much that he even abandoned his own life so that others may be healed and have life eternally. In every way, Jesus displayed the perfect love of a husband and a father in ways that I will never even approach.
That’s right, there is no way I can approach that kind of selfless love on my own. t’s not something I can muster up by my own assertive will or strength and it certainly isn’t something I was born with. So, instead of me trying to reach it myself, God brought it to me. When Jesus went to that cross and when he rose from that tomb, he brought the power to love and serve as he did directly to me. The power of the Holy Spirit living and working within me allows me to be patient in times of frustration, loving in times of anger, assured in times of doubt, and selfless in times of selfishness; all because Jesus did these things for me first. I can love and care for others because Jesus has loved and cared for me first. Only thought him alone can I can be of any use to my family.
So before I head back home to care for my family, I thank the Lord that he has given me the strength through Jesus Christ to do so. I know I’m not a great healer or comforter, but I pray that they’ll see the Great Comforter and Healer within me.