I am one of those annoying people who like to tell myself—and you—that I "never get sick,” but Saturday, I am bound to report, I was felled by some ghastly kind of flu.
Bedridden for a few days, I thought of the documentary Stranded, about the flight that went down over the Andes in the 70s, leaving the survivors beyond the reach of civilization for many weeks. Many resorted to cannibalizing the dead. They were eventually rescued. Thirty years later, one guy, who’d since become a doctor, went back.
“Civilization tends toward a God of rules and regulations," he observed, looking out over the valley where he'd been stranded. "But the God I found out there, during those weeks when we did not know whether we would live or die, was the God who accompanies. Out there, I discovered the God who walks by your side”... He looked out over the valley again. “I don’t feel God here anymore.” “Why not?” someone asked. “Because we have sandwiches and transportation nearby,” he replied.
The words “companion” and “accompany” both come from the Latin cum pane: “with bread.”
Maybe it’s good to be sick for awhile, to remember the God who is as close and essential and simple as our need for food. Sometimes maybe Christ needs us to accompany him for awhile; to "keep watch" for an hour, in the Garden.
Sometimes maybe it's good to be stranded for a few days, even if it's in our own bedrooom.