Matthew 16:15-16, 21-23 Then Jesus asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” . . . From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.
But Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. “Heaven forbid, Lord,” he said. “This will never happen to you!” Jesus turned to Peter and said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”
At the family orientation to intestinal transplant, we went through classes called “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.” There was enough Bad and Ugly that I wanted to walk out of that room, out of that hospital, out of that city, and never look back. Peter’s sentiment was mine: “Heaven forbid, Karis! This will never happen to you!” Like him, I didn’t even hear the Good.
Karis, sitting in the same classes, reacted differently. She heard the Bad and the Ugly, but she also heard the Good. She heard the possibility of new life, of the end of the suffering she had already experienced for so many years. She heard a chance of recovery from the many losses she had known. She felt hope. She said yes to a high-risk gamble. “Mom, even without eating, I’m sick all the time now. Since my intestine is no longer working, my life is measured by how long my central line lasts. If I do transplant and things go well, I’ll have a whole life ahead of me!”
Later, Karis went through her own Gethsemane. The first time she was offered an organ for transplant, terror flooded her, and she said no. But as she shared her agony with her Father, he gave her both peace and courage. The next time an organ became available, she was ready to say yes.
And she lived happily ever after. Um, no. Actually, everything went wrong. But she survived severe rejection and severe infection, when humanly the chances of doing so were zero. That fact grounded her in a different kind of hope—not the hope of a second transplant, since she knew now how fragile that hope was, but hope in the confidence of new life no matter what happened. Even death could not destroy that hope. Death would be the doorway into a brand new life, free from all suffering and loss. That was the hope that carried her through the craziness of the next nine years until God did take her Home.
I’m asking myself this morning, do I see things merely from a human point of view, or from God’s? And I have to say, my first instincts are definitely human. Gut-twisting anxious. I know things can go really, really wrong. I’ve experienced life getting really, really messy, out of control, perplexing, and unimaginably painful.
But as I walk with Jesus toward Jerusalem this Lent, I want to hear everything he is telling me. Like him, and unlike Peter and my own tendencies, I want to put my hope in the Good, even if there’s some Bad and Ugly on the way there.
Because of the joy awaiting him, Jesus endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne (Hebrews 12:2).