Christina Georgina Rosetti
Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath Thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
No so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter, weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon–
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.
Weakness stinks. Coming to grips with dependence on others has probably been the most difficult and continuous challenge of chronic illness for me. For those who haven’t experienced such challenges, let me use this analogy: Imagine yourself as a Navy SEAL–buff, tough, and unstoppable. Then something as mundane as a car crash severs a nerve in your spine and leaves you paralyzed from the neck down. Once strong and in control, you now must rely on others for feeding, cleaning, transportation, and numerous other things you once took for granted.
By God’s grace, I haven’t had to deal with paralysis; but I have had to rely on others (usually my wife, family, and close friends) for transportation, care, and even income. Going from health and independence to illness and reliance upon others was a huge blow to my pride and my assumptions about myself as a man/husband/father. In many ways, that affect of my illness has been even harder to accept than illness itself.
And that is where Christmas has taken on a more profound meaning in my life. Though I would never choose to have to rely on others, that is exactly what Jesus Christ, the Son of God, CHOSE to do in His love for sinners. The One Who is eternally self-existent and all-powerful took on human weakness by choice, becoming dependent upon a human mother and adopted father for nourishment, protection, shelter, and everything else that comes with birth and childhood. He came to know loss, the attacks of Satan, rejection, sorrows, separation from the Father and death–all by choice and all because our salvation required a fully and perfectly human Sacrifice as our Substitute.
When we stop at Christmas and ponder Jesus’ choice to become “God with us” and all that means, it should lift our hearts to Him in awe-struck worship and praise, eclipsing the temporary losses and challenges of this life and renewing our commitment to bear our crosses daily out of love for One Who chose to bear our hell on the Cross. Nothing is too great to carry while following a Savior like that!