Over the last couple of weeks our house has been hit with sickness. A couple of our children have had strep and one has had a cold. Now, if you know me, I don’t like getting sick—I mean, who does? And when someone in our house gets sick, you better believe, I take precautions to avoid catching what they have.
To protect myself, I do a few things. First, I have a big bottle of hand-sanitizer that I use non-stop. If I touch the contagion or anything that they touch, I immediately go for the bottle. Second, I double-up on my vitamins and pray that God works through the power of Vitamin-C. And third, I implement the loving “fist bump.” In other words, I keep my face and lips away from theirs. So no kisses and hugs for the infected during their sickness. I know what some of you are thinking, I won’t be winning a daddy-of-the-year award with my cold-hearted fist-bumps.
As I was thinking about my fist-bumps this morning, it hit me that God—the ultimate good, good Father—doesn’t give fist bumps to sick, diseased-stricken humans, but rather seeks to wrap them up in his loving arms and shower them with blessed kisses.
How do I know this? Because the good news of Jesus is that rather than purge the earth of sinful, infectious, diseased-stricken humans and start all over, or rather than retreat in divine abandonment leaving sick humans hopeless and just enjoying the blissful Trinitarian community, God choose to love the diseased-stricken world by sending Jesus in the contagious fray and meeting them face to face. And not only that, he choose to take man’s sin and place it on himself. In other words, he willing caught our disease so that he could dispose of it once and for all. In short, God gives no timid, impersonal, self-protected fist bumps to sick humans, but large—full of grace and love—hugs and kisses.
In loving sinful, infectious, and diseased-stricken humans in this manner, there are several things that we learn about God.
- No matter how sick or contagious we are, we are never too sick for God’s personal, loving, and gracious touch. Think about that! No matter who you are, what you have done, or how messed up you think you are, you are not too sick for God’s personal, loving, and gracious touch. Just as Jesus touched the leper—someone who was too sick for anyone to want to be around—and healed him (Matt 8:3), he can (and wants to) touch and heal you.
- Jesus loves us so much that he sacrificed his health so that we might be healthy. When someone is sick it tends to isolate him or her from the rest of the world—given that no one really wants to be in proximity to someone who’s sick and have the potential of catching what they have. Being sick can be very lonely. The few people who would even care for the infectious person are the ones who really love the one suffering. There are many places in Scripture that speak to God’s love for humans. Passages such as John 3:16, Romans 5:8, 2 Thess 2:16, 1 John 3:1, and 1 John 4:9–11 speak of God’s love for us. And remember, God’s love isn’t directed to the healthy, but the unhealthy. In fact, the Bible teaches that Jesus sacrificed his health so that we might be healthy. As 2 Corinthians 5:21 states, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” In sickness terms, Jesus took our sickness on himself and disposed of it once and for all so that we might have a clean bill of health. Oh, the love of God!
- God meets us in our unhealthy state by providing the warmth, comfort, and security of a loving and caring Father. I’ve never met someone who loved being sick. In fact, any person that I’ve come across who was sick felt bad that they were sick. In other words, they see their sickness as being an inconvenience to those who care for them. Thus, in an already fragile state—both mentally and physically—the last thing a caretaker wants to do is make the sick person feel worse. In the parable of the prodigal son, the Father ran out to warmly greet his sinfully diseased and disobedient son. And rather than making him feel worse than what he already felt, the father (who represents God the Father) meets his son in a warm, comforting, loving, and securing manner. He met him not to condemn him, but met him to caress him as a loving Father.
- The way God responded to man’s sickness proves that he is the Father and home everyone is searching for. Our sickness has a way of revealing our true home. In other words, the place we go to recover and be cared for, and the person(s) we rely on to care for us, reveals the place and people we call home. Obviously if a person is really sick and has to go to the hospital, you still can tell who “home” is by the people who are always there. God, from the very beginning, has wanted to provide a home for human beings—a place where he would be king and Father, and a place where man could enjoy perfect communion and harmony with him. Man’s sickness left all his faculties (mental, physical, emotional, social, relational, vocational, and cultural) damaged, which left him homeless and wandering aimlessly in search of his home. Once again, the great news is that God didn’t leave man in his sickness and homeless state, but pursued him to bring him back home—fully healed. As Jesus declared to his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:2–3). The truth is, man is looking not only for the cure of their sickness, they are also looking for their true home—the place where God offers healing, recovery, renewal, and restoration. He really is the “home” every sick human heart longs for!
Obviously when it comes to loving my children through their sickness, there’s a thing or two I could learn from our heavenly Father who doesn’t give fist bumps, but loving and gracious hugs and kisses. The good news is that my wife has nailed loving our children in this way. How do I know? Because she now has strep! 🙂