Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Pudding and a Pill

I could see the pain in his eyes. My 79-year-old dad had fallen a few days earlier, breaking his arm in two places right at the shoulder. This was the day after the surgery that had put in a plate and screws to keep the bone from shifting.

It obviously hurt him. A lot.

It’s hard to watch someone you love suffer, and my dad had already been through plenty; prostate cancer, thyroid cancer, a brain tumor, and lung cancer. He really was a walking miracle, as his doctor later admitted he initially gave him virtually no chance to survive the brain tumor for even a year. But the chemotherapy and radiation treatment had left him weak, tired, and unsteady on his feet. That’s what led to his fall.

The surgery had gone well, but this first day post-op left him without any appetite at all. The pain medication that he’d been given bounced on his empty stomach. The ensuing nausea made him vomit the meds back up, so there was minimal relief for the pain. It was such a frustrating cycle.

medicine bottle for pudding and a pill

My sisters and I finally found something that worked: pudding. Yes, pudding. It was the one thing Dad could make himself eat, and put just enough food in his stomach to keep the meds from bouncing.

Pudding and a pill made my dad’s pain go away, and judging from the loopy grin on his face also made him one happy camper. Dad went on to heal nicely, and the next summer he took all four of us kids, and our spouses, on an Alaskan cruise!

Life can be full of pain. Broken family relationships. Unfulfilled dreams. Disease. Death. None of us are untouched, and there is no pill we can take to make it go away.

Jesus understands our pain, because He also suffered greatly.

In the Garden of Gethsemane He endured the emotional pain of betrayal by one He called a friend, of seeing His fear-filled disciples flee from Him, and of hearing one closest to Him, Peter, deny Him publicly (Matthew 26).

He suffered mental anguish at the hands of people who maligned Him, accusing Him of being possessed by the devil (Mark 3:22). He was taunted, mocked and rejected by those He came to save, even as they called for His death (Matthew 27).

He endured the excruciating physical pain of being flogged, tortured, and crucified.

Finally, He bore intense spiritual agony as God the Father turned His back on Him and laid the complete penalty for sin on Him.

Unlike my dad we do not have any magic pill to make our pain go away, but we do have Jesus. There is no suffering that He cannot sympathize with. There is no sorrow He cannot understand. And death? It may stink, but because of Jesus, it does not win!

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.                      (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Further reflection:

  1. What has been the biggest hurt in your life?
  2. What happened in Jesus’ life that would be similar?
  3. How does this help you accept His compassion?

Jesus, thank You that You understand my pain. You suffered, too. Thank You that in You I have a high priest who can empathize with my weakness, yet You give me the perfect example of enduring. And thank You that death does not win—You do!

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