Been There, Done That, I Understand

Back in my hotel bed after yet another productive time spent in the bathroom, I tried to remember when I last had such a severe case of diarrhea. Hmm, Indonesia a few years ago, I thought, and of course Brazil, nearly every work session in the Canela village.

I then started a mental conversation with Jesus, first asking Him to heal me and give me my strength back, and soon. I also reminded Him I was supposed to be in a suit and tie, giving a story packed speech that evening and every night that week before an audience of nicely dressed banquet guests who would be severely distracted if, in the middle of the speech, I had an accident or had to rush out to the nearest bathroom.

I was still mentally explaining my suffering to Him when the thought came, “Yes, I know.” And into my mind popped a vivid picture of Jesus grabbing some leaves and hurrying behind a boulder along the Jericho road to relieve Himself for the umptieth time while the disciples grinned knowingly.

Yes, the divine Jesus was also fully human and suffered the same problems we tend to suffer. “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. . . . Though He was God’s Son, He learned trusting-obedience by what He suffered, just as we do” Hebrews 4:15, 5:8 (MSG).

Jesus2Meaning He was tempted to complain about being afflicted with infections and the resulting weaknesses especially when He was busy in ministry.

The next mental picture I got was of Jesus rejoining his disciples and laughing at his predicament.

I, however, was not laughing. I was not only tempted to complain, I did so, frequently, bitterly, and at length. I also claimed healing faithfully, but then doubted His willingness to instantly heal me since day after day nothing positive seemed to be happening. No, not a pretty picture.

It’s now a week later and after a five-day liquid diet, I’m happy to report my digestion is back on track. I’m thankful that there were no distracting accidents or interruptions during any of my five speeches although my presentations were noticeably weaker and less peppy.

I’m also thankful that I got a clearer view of the humanity of Jesus. He was not the thoroughly healthy figure in impeccably spotless white robes, wearing a halo and a devout expression so often pictured in paintings and biblical illustrations.

He looked and smelled a lot more like a Brazilian peasant farmer trudging back from his field to his village at sunset. Sweat stained shirt, dirt streaked pants, and feet the color of the soil they had been tramping since dawn.

Jesus traveled and ministered out in the open air. He also lived there. He and His band of young men slept on the ground, the grass, or the sand many nights, close to the dirt and dust of the earth. That showed on their clothes. He had dirt under his fingernails, and in many other places. He was often dead tired, falling to sleep instantly and soundly even in a tossing boat during a storm.

You know how when you go camping for the weekend you tend to feel gritty and grunky, smelling of sweat and campfire smoke? Then, when you get home, one of the first things you do is have a shower and put on clean clothes, right? Now think of going camping without a tent, sleeping bag, pillow, propane stove, lamp, flashlight, or canned food, and hiking 15 miles a day, week after week for months. That’s what it was often like for Jesus and His band.

In comparison, my problem was a mere inconvenience. Instead of having to walk everywhere, I rode in a van. I slept in an impeccably clean hotel bed every night, and most afternoons, instead of in the sand off the side of the road. I had clean clothes, plenty of liquids, food, medicines, and  . . .

Oh, Lord, forgive my complaining!

Are you complaining about something today?
Jesus says to you, “Yes, I know, I’ve been there too.”