As I stump my toe on a sharp table corner and scream, my husband, Anwar, asks me, “What’s wrong?” I can’t reply. I clutch my foot so tight that the sole turns yellow, I hold my breath and I screw my face up until it resembles a discarded piece of tin foil.
Being on the clumsy side, having limited spatial awareness and not being blessed with a large amount of dexterity, I often trap my finger in the kitchen drawer when putting away the cutlery. Yes, I shut the drawer with my left hand before I’ve let go of the spoon in my right. At that point, I’m not thinking of my love for my sweet daughter nor for my precious husband. And the cat, well – he becomes a rabid rat that I want out of my way.
When I was giving birth to Sarah, I remember starting a sentence then stopping halfway to accommodate a contraction. Anwar would sit staring at me, waiting for me to complete my dialogue. While grimacing wildly with my eyes tight shut, I would hear his voice faintly call out, “Eh? What were you saying? What was that?” He just couldn’t grasp the extent of the pain and expected me to continue talking.
This is why I marvel so much at Jesus when he was on the cross. It was bad enough that hours earlier, he had his flesh literally torn apart by large leather strips with metal and bone prongs at the end. He also had thorns more than 4 inches long, pressed firmly into his skull. I am told that they were deliberately positioned on the most sensitive part of his head. His beard had been ripped out from his face. Most ladies will be familiar with the agony of strip-wax exfoliation, but even the worst experience of this, cannot even begin to compare with the torture Jesus suffered. Then, if all that was not enough, he had rusty nails driven into his hands and feet and was then strapped to a battered wooden cross and left to die. The position he was placed in meant he couldn’t breathe unless he used his muscles to hitch himself upwards. This in itself would have been excruciating, not just for his limbs but his open-wounded back would have been scraping against the splintered wood with every movement.
Yet, in all this, Jesus spoke! He managed to belt out many words while being in this state of complete agony. His heart was not focused on himself.. No. He was thinking about you and me, and praying to the father for him to forgive us!
One day as I was contemplating this, I heard a loving whisper in my ear saying, “I thirst.” This was one of the words Jesus spoke while in torment, but at this moment, he was telling me that his thirst goes far deeper than the desperation for liquid to enter his body. He told me that he had a thirst for the souls of people. Everyone, including those who nailed him to that cross and gloated sadistically as he writhed under the torture. I wrote this poem to capture the moment:
My throat is so dry.
The sun is beating down on me,
As vultures hover in the sky.
And it makes me think,
This thirst is much deeper
Than just wanting a drink.
It’s for the souls of those men,
Cursing my name.
They are the people I’m dying for,
They are the reason I came.
Oh Father, these I pray for
As I’m hung up on this cross,
It hurts so much to die on here,
But I know it’s worth the cost.
They don’t know why they do these things,
Or who they are doing it to.
Father, I would gladly suffer,
So that they might know you.
The hatred in their eyes,
Makes me love them all the more.
I thirst for their souls.
It’s them I’m dying for.
Forgive them Father,
I love them.
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30