This image is my nurse injecting Doxorubicin into the IV attached to my chest port. As near as I can decipher, Doxorubicin interferes with the DNA of cancer cells through a process of preventing replication of the DNA and blocking the double helix from resealing. Far more sophisticated medical terminology that I can barely understand. It was the first chemotherapy medication of four different medications that complete the treatment.
Today is the second Sunday of Easter and the Gospel lesson (John 20:19-31) focuses on the apostle Thomas who is not present when the others encounter the Risen Christ. When Thomas is told by them that they have seen Jesus, he said he could not believe unless he sees and touches the wounds of Christ. I have preached on this text many times, but this week I am caught in a different way by Thomas's awareness of the wounds. He must have been present at the crucifixion. He either saw him die or viewed his dead body. I wonder if his grief wasn't affected by the reality of the wounds and prevents him from quickly believing the others' reports that they had seen him alive. Thomas isn't ready to move beyond the suffering. Maybe he wasn't with the others because he needed to grieve alone. I don't know. I may be stretching the scriptures. I'm not like Thomas. I was always one to speed past the crucifixion and the suffering to Easter joy. And I wonder if I didn't try to make suffering invisible because I'd just as soon it not happen. I prefer to avoid my suffering and not just this event, but the suffering of many others.
Some wounds are obvious. No one can miss that this person is injured. But most suffering is hidden, out of sight: sexual abuse, racism, broken hearts, dishonesty, mistreatment of all kinds. Or we choose not to see. And although there is no obvious wound, the injury may be even more devastating and dangerous to one's well-being. And these are the kinds of wounds that are easy to ignore or pretend that they are not serious or that they even exist.
I know I have failed to notice or care enough for people I know that were hurting. Forgive me for minimizing the suffering of others. I'm not asking for sympathy for me. I'm being taken care of. My cancer will be cured. But there are friends and loved ones whose pain we minimize in the hope that they too are not that wounded. Did we miss seeing how hurt they are?
The gospel account concludes with Thomas seeing the wounds of the risen Christ, and believing. The suffering is real, and so is the victory.