It’s God’s comforting presence that has sustained us during this pandemic while Matt’s working in the hospital and doing COVID coverage. Yesterday, I was thinking about Jesus enduring the ABSENCE of God’s comforting presence while he hung on that cross – bleeding and battered, completely separated from his Father on my behalf for that moment in time. The reality of what that sacrifice entailed strikes me now in a new way.
Michigan is a hot mess right now – third in the country with COVID cases and deaths, 85% of those here in Detroit where Matt works. Residents, regardless of specialty, are being used to help with COVID patients.
It’s a strange juxtaposition I find myself living. Some days I forget we’re in the middle of a pandemic at all, and other days, my heart faints at the realization of it. One minute, I’m laughing at a funny meme, baking cookies, cuddling Abby and making Easter crafts with Luke. Another minute, I’m crying out to the Lord, pleading for Matt’s protection again, thinking about his asthma as I care for my two babies and battling worst case scenarios in my head.
Elective surgeries have been cancelled, so Matt’s been home more which is so sweet for our family. Trauma surgeries are still happening because people still break bones during a pandemic. He operated on a broken hip of a COVID patient last week. When he’s home, we enjoy slow days and looking for rolly pollies, but there is underlying dread when he has to check his COVID schedule. It feels like he’s been drafted to fight in a warzone. – See? Juxtaposed.
He strips off his scrubs in the laundry room as soon as he gets home and immediately showers and disinfects his phone, glasses, and badge. We joked that Luke’s going to think daddy goes to work naked.
Last week, Matt received a heartbreaking email from his medical director regarding another resident at his hospital. We were feeling more settled (lighter-hearted and brave even), but that news rattled us. Still, we’ve found such deep and abiding comfort in the presence of Jesus in the midst of all this crazy. Matt’s been greatly comforted thinking of Jesus IN the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and meditating on Jesus being IN the COVID-infected hospital with him too. This is his phone screen saver right now. We love this reminder.
With the heaviness of these times, I’ve been thinking about a book I read about 7 years ago. Joni Eareckson Tada’s book When God Weeps, Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty had a profound impact on me.
God’s sovereignty over all things and his infinite wisdom to work for the good of His children according to His perfect will was made clearer to me. That He is somehow mysteriously sovereign even over sins committed by man was fleshed out in a new way for me. As I reflected more thoroughly on His goodness in the midst of the world’s horrors and sorrows, my mind was stretched and my heart was comforted.
I was deeply moved by Joni’s personal accounts and the stories of her friends, all battling such hardship, and of their human process, much like David’s, of suffering, questioning, and resting ultimately in the sovereignty, the all-knowingness of God and the future hope of eternal glory that His children have in Him.
The Lord’s great empathy for us and His personal experience of pain of all kinds reassured me. I was struck by the truth of the Gospel, when at one point Joni describes what it must have been like for Jesus while he endured the full wrath of God for heinous sins (several listed in detail) for which of course He Himself was not personally at fault. An innocent bearing consequences for wickedness, His Father looking on him with completely unleashed anger and absolute disgust as if Jesus was stained with sin – filthy, wretched, and vile. I let myself think of the worst possible sins I could imagine – my disdain and horror at those people who commit them – then I imagined God looking at Jesus with this same disdain for that moment in time. My sweet Jesus? Oh, tears filled my eyes thinking about the unjustness of it! I knew though, as I read, that His sacrifice was willing and necessary. I had just never before read it so descriptively. Jesus’s suffering, his anguish, his yielded spirit to God as He drank the bitterest of cups left me in awe of Him…again. And I found myself more yielded to the Father as a result, trusting Him with my pain, and looking forward to His full restoration of all things with greater hope.