Illness is no respecter of holy days. Vomit does not keep a calendar. If it did, I’d be at church on Palm Sunday, not home with a baby and bodily fluids.
Mommas everywhere know the nagging disappointment of missing church, again, because illness has taken captive a little person’s body under your care. It’s especially tough during the holidays. No watching your other children sing their little hearts out in choir. No hugs with friends with that extra tight squeeze to let each other know you care. No joyous trumpets announcing the coming King. And no palm branches waving with loud Hosannas praising–Jesus.
The desire to be with the people of God, to worship Jesus among them, to receive the preaching of the Word like a fire hose for my thirsty soul–these are good desires. And God delights to give me these gifts for my good and welfare. They are necessary blessings, which he regularly grants and ordains. But they are not what God planned for my Palm Sunday.
This morning, my sanctuary had laundry strewn about from the previous evening’s emesis, an all too perky Christian radio station blaring, and consisted of myself and one pale-faced, somber, little one. Rather than hearing the sweet voices of the children’s loud, “Hosanna!” the Lord received the praise of a weak-voiced thirty-something, whose Hosanna rang with tears and wet hair and slippers.
Elisabeth Elliot said, “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
Can we mommas, at home with sick children, missing the preaching and fellowship of the body, say, “Amen!” to this? Do we believe that God withholds no good thing from us? That He is working this all out in a way that actually draws us deeper into Him and into greater satisfaction and peace? Do we trust that as we give good things to our sick babies at home because we love them that God the Father is giving us a fish, not a serpent, because He loves us all the more?
In the Sunday mornings at home, the Lord delights to give me bread, not a stone. He feeds me the bread by His Word. He ministers tenderly to my spirit by allowing me to fulfill His commands to the least of these: my sick, small, completely dependent and helpless baby. This child, for whom I would gladly give my life, I am privileged to sacrifice for on these mornings.
The Lord has poured out His wrath on His Son. His Son has sacrificed on my behalf. And it has been granted to me to lovingly care for my children with the strength of love by which Christ endured the cross. That is a powerful love.
So, mommas and daddies, and all those for whom God has ordained a time away from the presence of His people on Sunday or Saturday night, we can take heart in our loving Good Shepherd, who tends to us wherever we are—in our laundry-filled living rooms or rocking little babies, in our slippers or our Sunday clothes.
“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will gather them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11