In these past two weeks, my whole family has cycled through a vicious flu bug. Bethia (one of my two-year-old twins) was sick first. She threw up 6 times in 5 hours last Tuesday, and at 2 years old, wasn’t really able to communicate about what was happening to her. Once my second daughter had the same sickness a few days later, I may have lost touch with reality. After the umpteenth change of clothes, I actually said out loud, “Well…it just has a little vomit on it…” #neverthoughtidsaythat
More than anything though, this experience has made me think about when I was sick as a kid. I have some very specific memories of having the flu, and the most defining thing about them is my mom. In my memory, she is by far the most prominent, even more so than the symptoms of the sickness. I remember soiling the couch when throwing up once, when I was way too old to be doing so…and I’m crying right now thinking about the grace and love that was shown to me by my mom in those moments. She never complained. She never made me feel shame, but on the contrary, my memory of those moments is safety, hands brushing my hair, soothing voice, and knowing she would be there when I would call out, “Mom!”
Thinking about this today, I was struck by the simplicity of God’s redemption here. Sickness comes from the fall. Sickness is not from God, and will not be present in our bodies to come. But here, through the love of my mom, sickness was redeemed. The greater force in my recollection was her love, not the damages of disease. Her love and care brought the kingdom of God into my life.
We are living in the tension between the “now” of the kingdom of God and the “not yet.” Jesus has come, we have been redeemed, we have the Holy Spirit in us – the kingdom of God is here! Yet, the battle has not been fully won. We still see the consequences of sin in our world, and the great enemy has not yet been defeated. Satan will be defeated, that outcome is certain, but it has not happened yet. It is in that space that we live – the final hours of a great battle. The kingdom has come, the kingdom is coming. Now, and not yet.
Sometimes (especially these days) the problems of the world seem so overwhelming. Things are undeniably broken, but yet… There is hope. The resurrection power of Jesus is my hope. And I am a participant in seeing the power of Jesus redeeming the world around me. Little things like the way that I care for my kids in love – this establishes the kingdom of God and breaks away darkness. The way that I treat my neighbors, the way that I treat strangers – this can powerfully advance the kingdom of love. The way that my mom cared for me when I was sick diminished the power of the sickness, and God’s way was victorious.
The big stuff is also needed. I need to pray BIG, and pray hard for my community and for the world. I need to take transformative action when and where I can. Thinking big about justice and a better world is necessary! But in that, I can lose sight of the power of the little things. The power of my one voice. In my own home. In my own community. Being a force of love to my friends and neighbors.
Despair is a trick of the enemy. There is always hope.
I’ll close with a quote from Gandalf in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien:
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”
Amanda loves God and loves her family, often sharing her love through music and living life with her neighbors.