What would you do for your spouse when they are suffering? Your child? Would you take their pain on yourself if you could? I know many of us feel that we would. The depth of our love means we would take on any pain if we could relieve them of theirs.
That fact, combined with what is going on with my Dad, is making me see Easter differently this year.
As many of you know, my Dad had a massive stroke two weeks ago. He had recovered well from a right-brain stroke three years ago, worked hard, and came back to being fully independent (driving himself to Pilates class!). This stroke, in the left side of his brain, has been more challenging, impacting his ability to move, remember things, speak, and see. It has been so hard to watch this great man, this precious father of mine, struggle at times to remember his name, to get words out, to remember what we told him a few hours ago.
It has been even harder for my Mom. After 53 years of marriage, they are as close to ONE as two people can be.
Yet even when my dad was confused, unsure where he was, or even what his name was – he knew my Mom. My Mom who has loved and served him sacrificially – just as he has her – for 53 years. My mom who saw that he was distressed and agitated from not understanding what was going on, when he couldn’t seem to move his arms or open his eyes, when his brain DESPERATELY needed rest that he wasn’t getting. So she climbed into his hospital bed to comfort him. Instantly, he calmed down, took a deep breath, put his arms around her, and fell into a deep, healing sleep.
She would take on his pain if she could. But she can’t. It is a helpless feeling to watch someone you love suffer, and know that beyond advocating for more Tylenol, you can do nothing to relieve that pain.
Yet this weekend, nearly two weeks after my father’s stroke, I am reminded that the great story of Easter is that God COULD do something to take our pain on Himself – and He did. God says He loves us like both a spouse and a Father. He could not bear to see us suffering from the pain of this fallen world and our sin. So in an act of permanent love, he DID switch with us. Jesus was born as a human baby in order to grow up to be the One who would go to the cross for us. On that dark Friday he made that sacrifice, to take all of our pain and sin on Himself. What we can never do for a loved one, He did for us.
And on that glorious Sunday morning: the empty tomb! “He is not here: He is risen. Just as he said.”
Jesus had defeated pain and sin and death – the condition of humanity – forever.
In this fallen world, Jesus says we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. And He invites us to overcome it too… by making another switch. Switching our old life, for the new. Our way, for His. Accepting that sacrifice He made for us, out of His great love.
I don’t know what will happen to my precious father in the time ahead. He is brave, and courageous, and working as hard as he can to overcome the impacts of this stroke. But there are some battles ahead.
Yet, he also knows that no matter what happens – God has won the war on his behalf. He has traded the old life for the new. He has accepted the sacrificial switch.
I look at the picture of my parents. And from this day on, I will remember the promise of Easter.
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Shaunti Feldhahn loves sharing eye-opening information that helps people thrive in life and relationships. She herself started out with a Harvard graduate degree and Wall Street credentials but no clue about life. After an unexpected shift into relationship research for average people like her, she now is a popular speaker and author of best-selling books about men, women and relationships. (Including For Women Only, For Men Only, and the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage).
Her newest book, The Kindness Challenge demonstrates that kindness is the answer to pretty much every life problem, and is sparking a much-needed movement of kindness across the country. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.