East of Eden
Lent 2019: Dreading the unexpected, even when it's expected.
Last month, my mom was admitted to the hospital for a list of reasons: kidney stones, a urinary tract infection, dehydration, anemia, and the flu. When my brother Joe called to tell me, my heart began to pound. He sounded concerned, but not overly-worried, as he explained how Mom's nursing home doctor had her transported to a nearby, affiliated hospital. This has been something of a semi-regular experience over the last few years. She has breast cancer, and being on chemo makes her very susceptible to infection. She's had so many bronchial infections at this point, I've lost count. Still... my heart was pounding and I was... scared.
This week, during one of my Lenten devotions, I came across Matthew 17:22-23:
When they came together in Galilee, [Jesus] said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
It's totally understandable that the disciples would be feeling a great amount of hurt after Jesus prophesied his own murder, even if it was immediately followed by that whole back "on the third day" guarantee. But it should be noted that Jesus' words here was not the first time he foretold his death; a quick jump to the previous chapter reveals he had already broke the bad news:
From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
So not only had Jesus filled them in on his upcoming demise (and assured them he'd beat death on day 3), he also shut Peter all the way down by calling him Satan and a block. Basically he let Peter know he wasn't at all on His level and he needed to take several seats way in the back. I'll tell you, Jesus was willing to suffer for fools, but He had no time to suffer foolishness.
Anyway, heading back to chapter 17, we learn about how some of the disciples, including Peter, bare witness to The Transfiguration, how Jesus healed a demon-possessed boy, we finally get to the verses where he repeats how He's going to die, and the disciples get really sad. So despite being told, quite forcibly, once of His death, then seeing some incredible miracles, the disciples, upon hearing the warning a second time, are still filled with sorrow.
There comes a point when we all come to learn that to be born means we all will eventually die. A beginning chained to an end. This is expected AND guaranteed. And still... there is grief, sadness and fear.
As an adult, reading over the books of the Gospel, I have a greater appreciation for Jesus' repetitious words of His crucifixion to His followers. He wanted them to accept His impending death AND resurrection.
My mom was discharged from the hospital after a little over a week. The flu and UTI are gone, so is most of the pain, and her color and appetite have returned. She was chatting away to Joe about how her mom use to sit on a phone book to drive and Nana's love of turtle soup despite having owned a number of the creatures as pets.
And still, Mom has an oncology appointment coming up this week and an inpatient admission scheduled for chemotherapy later this month.
Totally expected. And still...