2018 Advent Series – Day 17
At our annual ladies Christmas party, the women of my church gather in someone’s home to dip hot chocolate out of a slow cooker and share prayer requests for the coming year.
One of the women among us has walked very slowly for as long as I’ve known her. When she was young, she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. She raised ten children, homeschooling them. During all those years, she has endured stiffness, fatigue, pain, and limited range of motion. She walks, as I said, slowly.
She and her husband are also marked by frugality. As long as I’ve been in the community, they’ve been known to eschew debt and live simply, saving for long periods of time and eventually moving into tidy little house they built to accommodate wheelchairs and handrails for the future.
Recently, this woman and her husband became aware of a new treatment for RA–an ethical stem-cell treatment that has shown great success in reducing inflammation for RA sufferers. After a long process of decision, they decided to use the remains of their savings to get this treatment done. She’ll be having it done this week.
It’s also important to know that this woman is not a sentimental lady. I’ve never heard her indulge herself self-pity. And this is why the words she spoke during the ladies Christmas party last week have rung in my head since then:
“When we decided to do the treatment,” she said quietly, “I had an immediate thought, and it’s recurred since then. ‘Am I really worth this much money?'” Here her voice cracked a bit with emotion. “It doesn’t feel possible; it’s so much money. And then as I was praying this, it just came to mind so clearly: God already gave something so much more costly and valuable than the money. He already gave Jesus, to me, and for me to wonder whether I’m worth any of it…”
And this picture, of a dear but generally unemotional lady being choked up by the question “Am I worth it?” was the picture that followed me through the rest of the weekend. Because after all, the reality of emptying family savings in order to purchase a healing procedure is the perfect picture of the sacrifice that God made in sending his son. But at the same time, it’s the dimmest, barest shadow of the kind of value that was so recklessly spent on us at Calvary.
“For God so loved the world,” we read in John, “that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Can it be that you view us this way? That you have declared the renewal of relationship with us “worth it?” We were your enemies! How is it that you determined to call us friends? Children? Brothers and sisters of the Firstborn who gave his life?
[Note from Tilly: Finding myself pregnant at Christmas for the third time, I’ve committed to do a short advent devotional each weekday of December . They will all be labeled by date and can be found together under the “Advent” subject category.]