Monday, June 25, 2012

Weak Enough to Suffer Woe

"God clothed Himself in vile man's flesh, that so
He might be weak enough to suffer woe." 
~ John Donne 

When I read these words I instantly remembered a childhood and youth shot through with growing fear of pain. I had begun quite early to realize - through reading and observation - the trials life held for every human, felt them in my own body, and wished if I could have anything in all the world it would be the power to never feel sickness or pain. I remember distinctly wishing that a fairy or genie would come and offer me 'anything you wished in the world' - and I would request this freedom. I have since learned from Christ that this wish is not the most desirable nor is it attainable in this life, but when I read these words of Donne's, I was struck by that mighty lesson of the cross which I will never be done learning. Here is a most powerful weakness, more mighty, more beautiful than the healthy, happy bodies worshiped by the people of the world. Here is one who had the power that I had desired - to never experience sickness or pain, colds or cancer, poisoning or accidents - and He gave it all up, embraced the flesh that would make Him vulnerable to every suffering, and became by this, my Savior. I cannot merely love Him for this, I must have this love. This love saves me, but goes beyond that to teach me what it is to live. All that I once esteemed, turned on its head and made foolish by the love that embraced my dread.

"This is how we know what love is - Jesus Christ laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers" - 1 John 3:16

And the upside-down, beautiful life of sacrifice is not forever. It is just for a time in this upside down world, until one day all things are made right and we will go to share, with the Lamb who was slain, the reward of His suffering. But we must suffer with Him here, "be made like Him in His death", "suffer with Him that we may be glorified with Him". It is all worth it.

I think this is the one lesson that I will have to go on learning the rest of my life. The lesson of the cross. Let me be taught.