Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”
Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20: 24-29
You try to sleep, tossing turning. You worry about your parents. You worry about your middle son, then jump to your older son, then your daughters. You worry about your dog. You worry about work and the future. You worry about getting old. You worry about the pain in your side. You worry about not falling asleep and how tired you are going to be in the morning. You worry about whether you will be able to be civil and not crabby. You pray. You worry about whether your prayers make a difference. You worry about worrying about whether your prayers make a difference. You get up. Get a drink a water. Walk around the cold, quiet house. You worry about the fact you need to sleep. Back under the covers, you toss, you turn. You look at the clock. 3 am. You toss some more. 3:32 am. 4:10 am. 5:05 am.
You jolt awake to the sound of the ringing alarm, glance at the clock 6:30 am. Wanting to pull the covers over your weary self, you drag out of bed and trip over your laptop scraping your shin on the bed rail. You see a blood stain appear on the right leg of your pajamas. You go to wake the kids and then remember...the boys are at a sleepover with friends. You go to the girls room, their beds are empty. The girls...where are the girls...your heart accelerates as you open the bathroom door to a swampland of towels from last night's bath routine, but no girls. On the edge of panic, the thought works its way through your foggy brain. Oh yes, they slept over Helen's because...because....now why was that....because YOU are suppose to be at the airport by 7 am to catch a flight to an all day conference in LA!
Scramble-panic you grab the coffee cup you prepared the night before and pop it in the microwave. Throw on your jeans and the white blouse you had ironed at sleepless 1 am. Shoes, purse, coffee, out the door...6:45. You will NEVER make it....but you try anyway. As you start to back out of the driveway, you blindly grope around your purse for your cell phone. Perhaps you can call on the way and find a later flight. No cell. You stop the car, run back in the house searching for the phone, trip over the cat and hit your head on the kitchen cabinet. You see the phone peeking under the edge of a notebook.
Out the door, flying down the road, the ultimate taboo, you pick up the phone to make a call to the airline, NOT hands free. Your arm knocks the cupholder and you reach out to grab your coffee. Saved. You take a sip....ah..and the phone rings. Startled, you lose grip on the cup, and hot mocha pours down the front of your white shirt, scorching your skin and pools in the leather seat beneath your jeans. In pain-tears, you miss the button on the phone in time. The call goes to voicemail. Let it wait.
Now what. In tears, you cry: "I can't do this!" You think: "Blow off the conference. Make an excuse. Take the day off. Go back home, put on your jammies, crawl back in bed. Wake up at noon."
You keep driving toward the airport, trying to decide if you are brave enough, risky enough to stop the insanity for a moment. The phone rings again. You answer it.
It is your friend Helen. Crying. Something about hospital hurry. Horrible, sorry...sobs. U-turn in the middle of the road, changing directions, you worry/pray. The skin on your stomach is stinging, your head is throbbing. You drive with tears. Fear.
Double parked, you rush in, get directions from the nurse and as you round a left, then a right, then two lefts, the elevator door opens and you hit your shin, again, against a gurney being wheeled out. You want to swear, but you don't swear. Looking down at the face above the sheet, it is not familiar. You let out a breath, try to pray, as the elevator shuts. You worry that you can't pray...well. Believing.
The elevator door opens to Helen's frantic, tear-streaked face. She grabs your arm, incoherently talking about a car and driveway and bike and....your head pounds so hard that your eyes see swirling lights...the skin on your stomach hurts like Hades, and you notice a fresh blood stain on your right pant leg, about shin level.
Led to where you do not want to go, one of many curtains in the emergency room, you look into the small, dirty, face of your youngest daughter. Her hair is half shaved, her forehead bandaged, her left eye swollen shut, purple and blue, her right eye shut, is she sleeping? You see lumps and odd angles beneath the sheet covering her up to her shoulders, but you don't investigate...yet. You whisper her name.
At the sound of your voice, her right eye slowly opens, her face crumples and she hoarsely sobs, "Mommy." She recognizes you. She can talk.
What do you do?
You yell! You wag your finger in front of her one good eye and start the "Have I told you 100 times..." tirade. Helen steps back, away in horror. You grab her shoulders and start to shake her, as she yelps from the squeeze on her bandaged arm. YOU are out of control. You know you are, but you can't stop yourself. You yell and cry and as you do, your daughter's outside wounds move inside.
(or, let's change the ending....)
What do you do?
You shrink back in fear. Revulsion, distaste at the small bloodied, crumpled figure, helpless on the bed. Is THIS your daughter? She cries, lifting her left arm, "Mommy, mommy"...you back away and she starts screaming..."MOMMY!!!!???" You turn away, moving through the curtain. You can't stand to see this. The pain the blood. Her screams pierce through your throbbing headache like a dagger, ripping your heart. You know you should, must, turn, go back in, face what happened, find out how bad it is, comfort your daughter, but you feel you can't. It is too much. Just too much. You stand there, and cry and die inside, to the the sound of your daughter's hoarse cries.
Fictitious. Yes. In a since and then again, perhaps not.
How many times a day, week, month.....lifetime...are we beckoned to touch the wounds of Jesus, and in our turmoil of living life, in our own brokenness, we wound the wounded.
or turn away, refusing to touch?
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ - Matt 25:40
When we refuse to touch the wounds of Jesus, or touch them roughly, we are passing up the chance to believe, to see God and not doubt, to know beyond a doubt that He is our God and our Lord. I know I find the mother in the story above appalling. Yes, she has had a rough night, a rough morning, a rough day, and by all signs will have many more rough ones ahead. But this is her daughter, wounded, .... in need of comfort, understanding, help...and even more...this is her Jesus...saying touch me...and believe.
Yet, how often do I treat the heart wounds around me in the same way. Either selfishly, boorishly trampling all over them, not even cognizant (caring) where I am squeezing and hurting. or...turning away, ignore the wound, overwhelmed with what it would take to heal, or comfort, it is much easier to walk away. Let someone else do it. After all, I am wounded myself. Who will care for my wounds?
Appalling? or familiar.
What do we do?
1) Surround our life with comfort pillows buffering ourselves from any and all wounded.
2) When encountering the wounded, run like mad the other way.
3) When encountering the wounded, shake some sense into them.
or... being broken and wounded ourselves...slow down, realize, with gentle heart/hands, that emotions are all over the place, so I need to watch where I step. Invite the wounded in. To my heart. To my home. To my life.
Touch, gently, the wounds of Jesus and believe. You want to see Jesus and believe, look into the wounded eyes of the least of these, and realize who you are touching.