Have you ever had those experiences where God sends you exactly what you need, at the very moment you need it? While trying to recover from a wicked bout with bronchitis, I was struggling to breathe because my chest was so full of gunk. While lying in bed, I picked up Brian Hardin’s Sneezing Jesus, where the author focuses on what it would be like in our world if we lived as Jesus lived. Since He is fully divine and fully human, only He can live a perfect life, of course. But what if we went about our days acting out the peace and compassion that Jesus showed? How would that change us, and how would it affect those around us?
I opened to the final chapters of the book, where the author discusses the particularly cruel death that Jesus endured at the hands of the Romans on our behalf. As Jesus hung on the cross, He struggled to breathe, each breath bringing His lungs closer to suffocation. In that moment, I understood sort of how Jesus felt, on a much smaller scale. But knowing that Jesus knew how I felt when my chest rattled with every breath, I was comforted. He has experienced the pain of our fallen world, just as we do. But He endured suffering willingly, because it was what God wanted Him to do, so that we might experience salvation and forgiveness.
Having completed the medication prescribed on an earlier doctor’s visit, and feeling very little relief, I called his office and was told they would “work me in” that afternoon. Wisely, I took along a book: Liz Cutis Higgs’ 31 Proverbs to Light Your Path. The focus of the chapter was Proverbs 17:22, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” While reading Liz’s comments on this verse, I had to confess that my heart was anything but cheerful. Twenty-one days of illness had worn down my body as well as my spirit. Liz’s words – and God’s Word – were what I needed, a reminder that joy comes from a relationship with Jesus. We can allow life’s situations to crush our spirits, or we can choose joy. “I have come,” Jesus said, “that (we) might have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)
About an hour later, I was conversing with the nurse in the office. She has a delightful sense of humor, and before I left that afternoon, we were both laughing. And that was definitely good medicine for my spirit!