Another Pandemic

The summer of 2018 was hard on us. We lost beloved kitten after beloved kitten. People in the community who fostered kittens talked about PTSD and loss.

The agony of hope and grief was indelible, but so too was the change in my experience with veterinarians.

Some refused to care for the kittens; others failed to tell us what was really killing them. I had always thought that veterinarians were doctors for animals, with the same abiding principles of integrity and common good.

That is what I thought before.

Now I know that for many it is just an income stream, a path to selling things in order to make a living.

I think about that summer. It was a bad summer for panleuk. There was a terrible tragedy unfolding for the most vulnerable among us. Back then, the people were ok, but the wee kittens had no chance.

Now I think about it because the pandemic we face this summer is counted in human lives.

Let us all hope and pray

That the people we trust with our lives

Are in this for the right reasons

And for the distance.

He Knows

Mark 5:25-34 (NIV)
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. [26] She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. [27] When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, [28] because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” [29] Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. [30] At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” [31] “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, `Who touched me?’ ” [32] But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. [33] Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. [34] He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Jesus lived his life for me, for you. A sceptic reading Mark would shrug and say that Mark crafted this story. I believe Jesus crafted it. Every detail matters–in the story, in his life, in out lives. Nothing is accidental.

I think about those 12 years of waiting. Jesus was there–in Israel, alive in the world–he was on his way to her.

I have lived through a number of chronic conditions. Pain, illness, suffering, grief without a quick-ish resolution is terrible. You live with the pain of today and the dreadful fear of all those tomorrow. What if it gets worse? What if it never stops?

The definition of unending suffering is hell.

The Bible tells us this woman’s condition was getting worse. Imagine her mixture of hope and fear when she heard about Jesus, as she pushed through the crowd toward him.

Jesus heals her automatically.. His power is abundant. He stops everything to talk to her because he loves her.

The gift of his love, his gaze, is more precious even than her restored health and freedom.

Ah! The lake!

Mark 2:13-17 (NIV)
Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. [14] As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. [15] While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. [16] When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” [17] On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

I like Jesus. I known he is

not a tame lion

as CS Lewis would say, but I trust his personality. I draw comfort from his anger and his grief, his compassion and his sense of humor. The best way to see Matthew is as a money launderer or an IRS auditor. Maybe an unscrupulous politician. He had sold out for cold cash. All these people Jesus was hanging out with were bad guys. Why would God hang out with the bad guys?

He answers the question with an incisive elegance: the sick need a doctor, the sinner needs a savior.

Good news for me, I am a dying mess, a real disaster. So grateful he is willing to hang with me.

Not just with…for.