I really don't have time to get sick. And while I don't consider myself a germophobe, I'm extra careful this time of year–hand sanitizer, extra handwashing, etc. There are things to be done around here, and five days in bed with the flu just won't cut it.
Unless my baby daughter (who is now eight and most definitely not a baby, but when her face is flushed with fever she is my baby) gets sick. Really sick–high fever with a deep and rattly cough. Hubs and the brothers left town with my blessing to go to a already-scheduled family celebration in Arkansas. So my girl and I set up camp in the living room with an air mattress, Gatorade, Motrin, and a towering stack of Barbie DVDs.
We turned off all the lights but the Christmas tree, and we lay in our little sick camp. Her damp head was on my chest, our arms wrapped around each other. I could hear and feel the little rasp in her chest with each breath, and the thought occurred to me–only briefly–that whatever nasty germs were making my girl miserable were almost certainly working their way right into me with each breath of hers. (And do they really look like the horrid creatures in the Mucinex ads? I am certain they must.)
And not only do I not mind the intrusion, I welcome it. Sure, it would be convenient to stay healthy so I can care for her better, but I'd manage. And I know, rationally, that if I take her sickness into me it won't lessen her own symptoms.
But she's miserable. And there is something in me, something that loves her so completely and profoundly and wants to take her misery onto myself. To let her hear my own rattly coughs so she'll know that I understand hers. To put on what ails her and share in her suffering.
In this season when we tiptoe a little closer to the Baby in the manger, when we celebrate His humanity, and ask ourselves why, how, could the God of the universe send salvation into a smelly stable and the arms of a frightened girl, I'm struck, suddenly, that He simply heard the rattle of sin in me. He knew the hurt I'd face. And because He's a Father who loves so completely and profoundly, He stepped in to take my misery on Himself. He let me see His own suffering so I'd know He understands mine.
My analogy starts unraveling there, though. If I get the flu, then there's just two of us with the flu. When He took on what ails me, what ails all of us, He started walking us toward a cure. Sometimes it feels like a long walk, and it doesn't happen overnight. There are still setbacks and valleys, some of them horrible. But we don't walk alone anymore. We walk with a Healer, a Victor, a Teacher, and a Guide–and a Father, who heard His child suffering and stepped in to fix it, because, unlike me, He really could.