The Theology of the Cross

That’s what’s going through my head right now. Along with a migraine that just won’t go away. It’s the long term effect of COVID that I originally got in April. I tested positive for COVID two days after Easter. It was a long initial battle for me. I had some common cold-like symptoms. But also fatigue, fuzzy head, and headaches. The last three just wouldn’t go away. For 7-8 weeks. And then they slowly did. And just in time too. We went on vacation and I was relieved of my symptoms for the most part. I had an occasional headache on vacation, but not much of anything. And some fatigue, but really because I had tried to push myself too much the day before.

And when we came back I was still ok. I had considered signing up for another half marathon even. But I wasn’t quite ready for that yet.

So I just kept going. Walking and running. And then at the end of July I started getting headaches again. Not all the time. But they came back. And they quickly turned into migraines. And the migraines got worse. And more frequent. And eventually they became constant. I now have a constant migraine. The level of pain just depends on the day.

And I’m dealing with some fatigue and some fuzzy head from time to time too.

Thus is the life of long COVID.

Which brings me back to the the theology of the cross.

Martin Luther wrote about the theology of the cross in his Heidelberg Disputation in April 1518. In article 21, Luther states the following:

A theology of glory calls evil good and good evil. A theology of the cross calls the thing what it actually is.

It is in the cross that we see God most clearly present – not because of the goodness of the cross. But because of the goodness of God. We see the self-emptying of Jesus on the cross. The cross, the instrument of death that represents the empire and humanity. The cross, which represents the hatred and wrath of humanity, being thrown onto God. And in spite of all that evil, Jesus takes it all in, lovingly, with forgiveness on his lips and peace in his heart, not responding with restorative violence, but rather with shalom. It is the theology of the cross that shows who God is most clearly. It is in the suffering and the pain that shows who God is when it would be most understandable when God could easily respond any other way.

Long COIVD isn’t the cross. I don’t know what it is. It’s not fun for sure. It sucks. I’m calling it what it is. It’s not a blessing. I would much rather not have it.

But it is here.

And so I have to choose how I go forward each day.

I can be upset. I can choose to have pity on myself and say woe is me. I can choose to give up. I can choose to allow the pain to get the better of me. There are some days when one or all of those will be the case. But that is not the plan for most days.

I need to call the thing what it is – that the migraines suck and are painful. And I will go on. And I will do what I am called to do – which is to proclaim the Good News, that I will work for justice, and have empathy, and work to build authentic, vulnerable community. Because here’s what else I know. That experiencing this will also open me to something else – the pain and suffering that others experience in ways I haven’t known before. We will know we are not alone. We can proclaim Good News to each other. We will work towards justice together. We will seek empathy together. We will experience authentic, vulnerable community together. We will be church together in a deep and lasting way.

I pray to God that these migraines are taken away from me. And regardless of whether they are or not, I know that they have changed me and will continue to change me. I pray that they will change me to be a better person and a better follower of Jesus – someone who better carries his cross in following Jesus.

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