COLLECT OF THE DAY
O God, by the passion of your blessed Son you made an instrument of shameful death to be for us the means of life: Grant us so to glory in the cross of Christ, that we may gladly suffer shame and loss for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. - Book of Common Prayer, p. 220
You are playing with children and one gets hit, bumped or falls. There are long seconds as you and the child process the shock. Will there be shrieks of outraged pain? Or is there a whimper and a look to you for your reaction? Just as children inevitably get these shocks of pain, so shall we throughout our lives. Accidents can deprive us of mobility. Arthritis and chronic back pain can plague us. We can lose our sight, our sense of smell and taste, our hearing. Serious illness such as cancers can rob us of vitality, hurt our very bones and sear our insides. We react at first with the same shock and assessment as the child.
God gave us our bodies as a way to enjoy the world. The smell of the sea, the sight of the ocean, the feel of the waves. We are indeed wonderfully made. Our bodies are designed for great strength, enjoyment and pleasure. Our bodies are great gifts from God. And they also are designed to feel pain, to break down and to die.
If you have been in intensive care, in a hospice facility or an infusion center of a cancer hospital, I suspect that like me, you may, even and especially there, have felt God’s presence. The chemotherapy nurses appear at the door with the medicine as avenging angels. Compassionate doctors and nurses guide our journey back to health, or comfortably, to death. Friends and family, strangers, laymen and priests are so often there for us, beyond our expectations. We may feel such a great out pouring of love and compassion that our hearts open in gratitude and thankfulness to God, even through our tears. Through our suffering we become more compassionate to others and more Christ-like in our lives.
We must turn to God, as the child turns to the adult. We see in Him that unbounded love and compassion for us. We feel His confidence that all is well. We feel His presence even, maybe especially, in our most painful experiences. He will deliver us home to Him and while we are on earth will provide us with the care we need.