From Sickness to Resurrection Hope

From Sickness to Resurrection Hope

Author: Geneva Wright
April 27, 2021

Sickness has always been a harsh but effective illustration of spiritual truth for me. It’s a reminder of how we human beings are frail creatures, easily knocked down by circumstances outside our control. When I am sick, I cannot simply will myself well. I can try and convince myself that it’s not really that bad. I get up and think that, because I can walk around, maybe I can ignore how I feel and function normally. But sooner or later the sickness wins out. Eventually I am forced back to bed, tired and dizzy, to rest and wait as my body does the slow work of repairing itself.

I recently came through COVID, and as someone who lives alone, the process of self-care was in some ways an exercise in hope. One of the most unexpected effects of the virus was how difficult it was to find the motivation to eat. Between the fatigue and dizziness brought on by fever, the loss of smell and taste, and the constant low-level nausea, my appetite was completely gone. The simple act of getting up to heat a bowl of soup or make some toast was a chore.

During the worst days I had to force myself to take in the bare minimum of food, trusting that it was what my body needed to recover. Living in the hope for tomorrow, I had to act in faith that what I was doing now would eventually yield the return of my health. And little by little, my health returned. Every day I woke up a little stronger. Soon I went from sleeping 16 hours a day to functioning normally. Quarantine ended and I was restored to the world.

In Luke 8, Jesus heals a woman suffering from a chronic issue that made her unclean in the eyes of Jewish society at the time: an issue of blood that had been going on for twelve years. Twelve years! That is nearly 4,400 days of waking up every morning hoping that would be the day she found healing, only to be disappointed. For twelve years the woman had searched for anyone who might help her, but although “she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone” (verse 43).

And yet, against all reason, the woman retained hope. A chance encounter brought her into the path of Jesus, who was on His way to heal another sick person. The woman, knowing that this was her chance, touched the hem of his garment and was instantly healed. The day that she had desired for twelve long years was finally here! Jesus praised her: “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace” (verse 48). It was a kind of resurrection, an example of the renewal that Jesus brings. From the daily death of pain, weakness, and isolation, she had been restored to life.

I was extraordinarily fortunate in my sickness: for me, the COVID symptoms only lasted for about two weeks. For many others, the sickness lasts for weeks or months, while some suffer ongoing effects. For my friends with chronic health issues, the struggle has continued for years, with no end in sight. Mental and physical pain, separation and loss, injustice—we live and work in the hope of experiencing healing and restoration, but also in the reality that not every situation in this broken world will be resolved.

The end of Isaiah 40, written to comfort the Jews during their future exile in Babylon, is a powerful message of hope and encouragement in the midst of difficulty:

28 Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
    his understanding is unsearchable.
29 He gives power to the faint,
    and to him who has no might he increases strength.
30 Even youths shall faint and be weary,
    and young men shall fall exhausted;
31 but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint.

Through their pain, God’s people can nevertheless put their faith in His power and in the promise of strength and renewal for those who hope in Him.

In the coming months, our state will likely be moving out of the isolation and restrictiveness brought on by the winter COVID surges and into a spring and summer where the vaccine makes unmasked physical fellowship safe (at least under certain circumstances). But for some, that fellowship will not be an option, or else the joy of the return to normalcy will be obscured by other struggles. So whether we are experiencing the joy of resurrection, or whether we are still waiting and hoping from inside our tombs, let us put our faith in the Lord who restores all things—in this life and in the next.

 


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