But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
-- Isaiah 53:5
It was eight o'clock in the morning, and I had already been called back to the doctor's office. I didn't bother to take my seat. I was thinking to myself, Just give me the cup, and I'll take it from there. With her back to me, the nurse invited me to sit down. After a slight hesitation, I obeyed. When she turned around, she was holding two thick, blue rubber strips. It took me a minute to figure it out. She was about to take my blood. I wasn't ready for that. I stumbled all over myself trying to balance my phone and my purse while pushing up my sleeve.
Honestly, I was buying time. I HATE giving blood! I inherited small veins from my mother. You know the kind where they have to stick you repeatedly in one arm before sticking you repeatedly in the other arm before finally deciding it would be better to draw the blood from your hand? Yeah, that's me. The nurse was waiting patiently. The sleeve of my jogging top was too tight to push above my elbow. I started taking it off. At that moment I succumbed to my fears. I was about to cry. With a desperate sigh, I begged the woman to go and find the most gifted phlebotomist in the building. I meant no disrespect; I was trying to protect myself. Calmly, the nurse looked me in the eye and said, "I am the best." I started fumbling again with my things. I needed my phone. I had to have some music. That was the only way I got through it the last time...by listening to Gospel. I sensed the nurse was getting impatient. I didn't have time to select a song from my favorite playlist. I was going to have to listen to the last one I'd played.
I dropped my head and paid attention to the words. They were from a Taizé chant used during Monday Night Prayer. Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom. Instantly I recalled the story of the thief who hung on the cross beside Jesus. And instantly I saw an image of Christ, His face streaked with sweat, His hair matted with blood, His eyes full of forgiveness. Even then, He was thinking about me...and you.
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals — one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.' And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, 'He saved others; let him save himself if he is God's Messiah, the Chosen One.' The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, 'If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.' There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: 'Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!' But the other criminal rebuked him. 'Don't you fear God,' he said, 'since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.' Then he said, 'Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.' Jesus answered him, 'Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.' (Luke 23:32-43).
I finished reading and thought, Really, Denise? He was crucified for you, and you can't even endure the prick from a needle? This time I hung my head in shame. I was no longer thinking about my visit to the doctor. I was thinking about my reaction to other people. I face opposition every day. Many times I find myself grumbling and complaining about those who are bitter and resentful, the ones I had come to believe were created to make my life difficult. This story changed my mind. In the face of Jesus' Passion for me, I ought to be willing to suffer the heartache of disappointment, the grief of broken relationships, and the agony of persecution. As a child of the King, a daughter of the Most High God, I ought to be willing to suffer whatever happens in this life. And you should, too. -- Denise Donnell
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, for forgiving me. Thank You, Lord, for remembering me. I can never repay You; I won't even try. Instead, I live my life for you until the day I die. Then I will join You in Paradise, eternally grateful for Your Sacrifice. Amen.
Denise Donnell is the pastor of Mississippi City UMC in Gulfport.