The other day as I was huddled on the bathroom floor, I found myself in the interesting space of not praying for help. My stomach was roiling, and I was horribly nauseous, awaiting the inevitable. In times past I might have prayed, “Please God help me…” but I didn’t do anything remotely like that. I knew I was sick, not dying, so rather than fight it, I did my best to surrender to it. The discomfort lasted through most of the night, but by the time I finally struggled to my feet, testing myself to see if any traces of nausea, remained it was early morning. As I had believed, I came through on the other side. No serious prayer needed.
I found myself reflecting a few days later on my having been ill, and wondering if Jesus ever got sick. I mean, he had to have, right? For sure in his early years, but what about in his early days of ministry. All the traveling he did, eating strange foods and drinking wine and all kinds of water, sleeping at time without good shelter would have to result in occasional illness, wouldn’t it? Did he heal himself, did he pray to his Father for aid, did angels come and assist him as they did that time he fasted for 40 days and nights? I know, more of my random musings.
It is comforting, though, to think that, like me, Jesus got sick sometimes. He was, after all, human. Sometimes Jesus’s divinity is emphasized over his humanity. It becomes some ideal that we can’t possibly live up to. But how about instead of aspiring to his divinity, we fully inhabit his humanity. He was like us. He wept, I bet he even laughed, and he definitely got irritated and downright angry, if the accounts are to be believed. And so we can relate to this Jesus because he’s like us. And while I’m not sure he was ever curled into a ball, fighting down nausea, it is even comforting to think that perhaps he also was sick at least once. Just like I was.
This journey of 40 days is a marathon, not a sprint. Are you with me, in it for the long haul? Will you walk the painful way, lay curled on the floor in sympathetic pain? No matter our faith traditions, we can take these 40-days as a time to embody our humanity, empathize with those who are suffering, hold compassion for those who are grieving, give to those in need. The world needs our presence, needs us to be present. And so we shall.