The pastor speaks of how Jesus takes and carries not just our sins but our sicknesses.
It’s all right there, so clear in the Hebrew text of Isaiah 53 where eight times words referring to physical pain and illness are used. (Jesus is “a man of pains and acquainted with sickness.” Isaiah 53:3b NASB footnotes)
And it’s so clear in the way Matthew uses Isaiah 53:4 to refer to Jesus’ healing ministry:
“[Jesus] drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
He took up our infirmities
And carried our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)
The pastor lays it all out and ends with the honest admission, “How it all works—I do not yet understand.”
I don’t either.
But this is how I’m experiencing the first little piece of it these days:
“Jesus, will you take and carry this fatigue that I’m feeling?”
He’s always willing. Sometimes He carries it away, and sometimes He carries it by carrying me.
Gentleman that He is, He always asks the next question. “What else are you carrying? May I carry that too?” Sometimes when I let Him take and carry my concern for a friend or my worry about what people will think or my questions about the future, that’s when I find the fatigue going too. And I realize that, that time, what I was feeling physically had deeper roots.
And the times He carries my illness by carrying me—those are as big a gift. Carrying my illness by carrying it away, carrying my illness by carrying me: both come from His love that desires and works for my true wholeness—not just physical but relational, not just relational but physical.
Some parts of the wholeness may come in this life, some not ‘til the next; that doesn’t change the fact that God desires and works for the health of our whole being. Nor does the fact that sometimes the path to wholeness seems at first to be leading away. Broken bones that have healed wrong may need to be re-broken. An infected wound needs to be opened and allowed to heal from the inside out.
I’d sensed God ask way back at the beginning of my illness, “Do you want to be made well?” (John 5:6) I’d said yes, but only if He would heal me from the inside out. I didn’t want to be made physically well only to crash again because the deeper issues hadn’t been dealt with. I’d felt ashamed of that response at first, guilty about my reluctance to be set instantly on my feet and plunged back into the world full of work waiting to be done. But it was the only honest answer I could give. And now I see it is God’s heart too. He knows that the only way to truly heal is to heal from the inside out.
And He is doing it.
Over the past few days, switching medication has given me lots of opportunity to practice this piece of letting Him carry my illness. Figuring out the right dose usually means weeks of worse symptoms. But this time (dare I say it?), the process has turned from something I usually dread to something even (yes, really) enjoyable. Because I’ve felt safe. Loved. Held. I’ve been able to let Him carry the questions about the dose and the worries about how I’ll manage the upcoming retreats. I’ve been able (mostly) to let go of trying to control the process and worrying about the outcome. So when the needed dose has been less and the energy more than expected, I’ve been free to enjoy it and enjoy loving Him and others in it. And the harder moments have been made lighter by His presence.
I don’t know how the next bit of the story will unfold. I do know I have a God whose heart is always, one way or another, to bring all His people to wholeness.