I am spending my afternoon in a rather unique place that many of you have never visited. And you can be glad for that! You see, I am in a chemo room at a hospital with my wife Joan who is undergoing chemo for a recurrence of breast cancer.
The room resembles a forest of metal trees, only instead of leaves, plastic bags, filled with cancer combating medication, hang, slowly dripping their contents into the patient.
The room is filled with an interesting assortment of people. One is very talkative, friendly to all and not afraid to speak her mind on anything. One sits near me with her grandson. He is about twenty years old and filled with the energy and idealism of youth. Grandma listens patiently to his ramblings, but she is not sold on his offerings. Another is reading a thick book. Is it a text book? Is it something religious? Whatever it is, it must be very interesting because her gaze has been firmly fixed on the page.
Yet, all of these patients, here because cancer is attacking their bodies, have one thing in common. They are all frightened in one way or another, even though few would ever admit it. One way of telling this is by looking into their eyes. You can see the fear there. In some, it is barely detectable, but it is, nonetheless, there. In others, the fear is very present and they try to cover it up with light conversation or serious reading. It is a marvelous collection of people from all walks of life with this one thing in common: they are all fighting for their lives.
Another thing they have in common is that if you look closely, you will begin to see the eyes of another. Look into their gaze and realize that what you are seeing are the eyes of One Who has suffered unspeakable brutalities not because of a physical disease, but because of a disease called sin.
Jesus Christ is present with those who are ill or are suffering in any way. He understands physical suffering having been crucified on cross for an unspeakable amount of time. He knows the agony of those who suffer emotionally because he, too, suffered the loss of good friends because of who he is. After all, one of his closest followers betrayed him and turned him over to the authorities who condemned him to death.
When you come to see Jesus in the eyes of those who suffer, you gain a new respect for the person. We are all unique and not one of us is free of worry and anxiety and trembling fear about something in our lives. We just become very adept at covering it up. But Christ knows your heart. He knows the hurt, the pain, the devastation that all of us have experienced at one time or another. In these moments, if we but surrender these things to him, he will help us carry our cross and ease our burden. But it isn't easy. It takes faith and faith takes hope and hope requires love. If we all step out of ourselves unselfishly, we can come to see these things and then experience Christ in the eyes of another.