But Jesus says, “You did it for me” by Ed Fox, from San Andrés Sajcabajá, Guatemala
Matthew 25:34-40 Then the King will say, “Come … For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me. … I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!
As we walk with Jesus through Holy Week, we can experience once again the way he identifies with us in our own much smaller suffering. As so many people are pouring out resources to care for victims of the war in Ukraine and in other places of deep need, Jesus says they are doing it for him. But first, he poured out his life for us.
Ed Fox, a childhood friend from Guatemala, responded to the last post, “Turn toward not away,” illustrating this. Thank you for sharing with us, Eddie.
“This story and lesson from Karis’s and your experiences has touched me to the core. So many of the thoughts she expressed to you and in her journals are similar to my own.
My own dad experienced terrible physical and emotional suffering and anguish. He turned towards Jesus and not away. Until the day he died, I asked God to put at least some of Dad’s suffering on me, in part so he might finish the tasks God had given him as a Bible translator. He and Mom did indeed finish shortly before he passed away, and I think of your dear parents, as well, and Mary and myself, as we stumble to the finish line.
About six months following Dad’s departure to Heaven, my own chronic sufferings began and have never ended. Many friends in Guatemala consider my physical (and perhaps emotional) suffering to be a result of my own sin and shortcomings. The “health and wealth” gospel is the main thing going in many of the new Guatemalan congregations, both Evangelical and Catholic. On top of that is the reticence in Mayan culture to make public any illness or trouble in one’s own life. That has fed the idea that it is shameful or an embarrassment when one must ask for prayer. Most troubles in this life are considered to be brought on by one’s own failings and shortcomings.
My suffering, though, has drawn me much closer to Jesus. I believe Jesus has chosen me to walk with Him in His and other people’s sufferings. In turn, I have chosen, as Dad and Karis did, to walk with Jesus and do my best to encourage others along the way.
We have a choice. We can choose to suffer and walk with Jesus, or we can choose to suffer and be bitter and angry. As you say, we choose to turn towards, not away. Although God has provided me with many small encouragements and victories along the way, He has chosen not to heal me completely. I’m usually okay with that after 22 years, but not always! Mary hears my complaints nearly every day of our lives, and so does God!
I want to leave you with a song that encourages me in my pain. Thy will be done on earth as in Heaven.“