One of the unique claims about Christianity is that we have a God who walked among us for a time as a human being. Jesus came to earth as an infant and had the same experiences that we humans do. From birth to death, He shared in the everyday events of life. He went to a wedding and celebrated with the bride and groom (John 2:1-10). Working with his earthly father in a carpenter shop, he experienced the pleasure of work done well. He experienced the pain of loss, when his good friend Lazarus died (John 11:11-15; 32-44). He experienced the closeness of friendship with His disciples. And ultimately, Jesus experienced the pain and isolation of betrayal and death (Mark 14:43-50; 15:34).
Because He was truly God and truly man, He was able to do much that the average person can’t by his/her own power. He performed miracles, healing people (Luke 8:40-56) and casting out demons (Luke 8: 26-33). He touched lepers and healed them (Matthew 8:1-4). He gave sight to a man born blind (John 9: 1-12). He brought his dead friend, Lazarus, back to life (see above). He was Himself resurrected after three days in the grave (John 20:1-18).
As we go through our lives, and experience both joys and sorrows, it is often in the time of need that we turn to God for help. It is good to remember that we have a God who understands our pain, because He shared in it. He is not a God who merely sits in the heavens, looking dispassionately down on earth, as some Deists would have us believe, but He is a God who was and is involved in the human condition. He cares for us and helps us, as only He can. In our limited thought, we often simply want the cause of our pain to go away. Sometimes God does take away the source of the pain; at other times He gives the strength, peace and understanding to cope with it. But in all situations, He cares and He ultimately works all things for good, if we trust in Him.
Four years ago, I began walking into walls – literally. I was diagnosed with an acoustic neuroma, a (usually) benign tumor that grows along the nerve sheath. It destroys both hearing and balance as it damages the nerve that goes to the ear. It also affected my perception of spatial relations, i.e. where walls and other objects were in relation to me – hence the walking into walls. My particular tumor was also growing along the facial nerve, affecting sensation and motor ability of the facial muscles. It was recommended that I have a craniectomy, a surgery that involves entering the skull (to remove the tumor). To say that I was terrified would be an understatement – the idea of having my head cut open overwhelmed me. I would love to say that my faith in God did not waver, but that would not be true. It is actually now, in retrospect, that I can see just how much He was with me. From the encouragement of my pastor, to the many prayers offered on my behalf, to the meals sent to our home after surgery, God’s people made sure that I knew that He (and they) were there for me. A friend shared a Bible verse and it was just what I needed to hear that day; I knew that the Holy Spirit had whispered it into her ear.
While the surgery has left me deaf in the right ear, with affected balance, I was blessed in that the facial nerve was spared, and I do not have any facial drooping. I recovered from the surgery just in time to attend my son’s 8th grade graduation, and I felt so blessed to be present to witness it. I came away from the surgery with a surer understanding that God will walk beside us on the difficult path, even as He walked a most difficult path while on this earth; and with a greater appreciation for the gift of life and a determination to make the best possible use of the time allotted to me. We can learn about God’s nature from studying the scriptures, but we experience God’s nature as we go through the struggles of daily life, trusting in Him. It is there that He meets us along the way.