Since it's Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I've been pondering the connections my physical illness has to my spiritual one. This sickness is a result of the fact that spiritually I'm sick with sin. Before I was baptized and given faith by the Holy Spirit, I was literally DEAD in my sin. Now sin does not have control over me like it once did--I'm not going to die permanently from its presence in my life--but it still rears its ugly head on a regular basis and causes much frustration, pain, and suffering in my life.
Then it hit me: I don't REALLY suffer all that much for the sins I've committed. Yes, I have to deal with the consequences. Sometimes they're very serious ones that affect my life and the lives of those around me. Sometimes they cause feelings of guilt that I have to deal with until I realize, once again, God's amazing forgiveness.
But here's the thing: compared to how Jesus suffered on the cross, my sufferings are pretty minimal. First of all, having the flu is nothing compared to being beaten nearly to death, being nailed to a cross, and then hanging there for six hours until He finally died. The worst of it? Jesus was literally, completely separated from God. Because He took the sin of the whole world on Him, God couldn't bear to be in his presence, because of God's complete perfection.
Jesus took the physical sufferings and the separation from God that I deserve--on HIMSELF.
Yes, I am sick with sin. But MY sin caused HIM to die.
The incredible thing is, the story doesn't end there. Yes, He suffered. Yes, He died. But Jesus is not only Man--He is GOD. And as God, He didn't stay dead. After conquering Satan, sin, and death completely, Jesus rose from the dead. And He is still alive. And He has promised that I and everyone who believes in Him will not die forever. We will not have to endure eternal separation from God--or even get a taste of it like Jesus did.
And the physical suffering that we endure now, in this life? Those won't last forever. Compared to what a lot of people experience, this sickness I have is so short, so mild, so temporary. But even the worst illness will be healed completely in time. And in heaven, there will be no more sickness, no more pain, no more suffering. The perfect bodies we will have there will last for eternity, because we will be with God.
All because of what Jesus did for us.