In Matthew’s account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness it says that after forty days without food Jesus was hungry.
As I looked at the patient’s legs that looked like pipe stems I thought about how her body was also hungry. She had been unable to eat anything for weeks. Her intestines could not tolerate any food of any kind. She was being kept alive by receiving nutrients by IV’s. And just when she thought she had turned the corner and would be able to eat and get discharged her intestines flared up again and she was back to square one.
She talked about how she was trying to stay strong. She was trying not to ask why is this happening to me? She said her grandfather had told her the question is why not me? He told her she should consider herself chosen to receive this cross to bear. She needed to show that she was worthy to bear this and be a testimony to others. But still questions remained for her that she was struggling to answer. She said, “I feel like I am going around in circles. I’m right back where I started from. I don’t know if I can handle any more of this. I can’t see where this is leading. I can’t see what the outcome will be.”
It was then that I thought of the Children of Israel wandering in the wilderness for forty years and Jesus wandering the wilderness for forty days after His baptism. And it became clear to me that as great as physical hunger can be the greater hunger within us is the hunger of the heart. The hunger to know, to understand, to see where God is leading us, is the greatest hunger of all.
As the patient poured out her fears and frustrations and doubts I could see that she felt she was losing her way. She was trying to figure out what she needed to do. She was trying to figure out where she needed to look to find the answers she was seeking.
As I shared her feelings and wanted to give her the answers she was seeking I said to her, “This is one of those times when we realize that our God is beyond understanding. We cannot know all His ways. We cannot know all His plans. We will never be able to figure it all out.” When the road wanders without any destination in sight, when it turns back and we find ourselves where we started we have no idea what this means.
So when the devil said to Jesus that he should turn the stones into bread it made sense. You are just starting your ministry. It makes no sense for you to die out here before you have even begun your work. And yet Jesus said, “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” It was His way of saying I trust. I cannot see where this is going. I don’t know what the Father has in mind here but I am not going to act. I am going to wait. In His way and in His time He will act and I will wait.
So this patient and I are going to wait. We don’t know where this is going. We can’t see what the outcome will be. We cannot comprehend God’s love for us and we cannot comprehend His plans for us. We trust and surrender our fears and tears and doubts as best we can and we ask all of you who read this to hope and pray and wait with us.