Been There and Done That

It’s my birthday today; I only mention that because I really want a lot of people to call me, and to text me, and perhaps even to send a little gift my way. I’m joking, of course (well, mostly)! The real reason I bring up this day is that Christmas is around the corner (it’s December, after all), so my thoughts are shifting toward the fact that I entered this world at a specific time, in a specific place. At 2:43 a.m., on December 1, in the Madigan Army Medical Center at Fort Lewis, WA, I made my physical entry onto this planet.
Why do Christmas and December influence my thoughts like this? Because God Himself also entered this world at a specific time, in a specific place, but with a much greater purpose than anything I could accomplish. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:1, 14a).
God became flesh; He lived a perfect life; He suffered all of the trials and temptations that all people face; He died on a cross to pay the penalty for our sins; and He rose from the dead to make possible our salvation and the hope of eternity in heaven. One specific benefit to our day-to-day lives is that God Himself experienced every type of trial and temptation we might face. No matter what we’ve gone through—or are going through—Jesus has “been there and done that.”
Our wonderful elder, Bud, was kind enough to jump in and preach for me this past Sunday, due to a virus exposure in my family. One story I was planning to share lines up with our discussion here. Just about five weeks after our first child, our son, Nolan, was born, he became very ill and lethargic and developed a high fever, so my wife, Kelly called me at work to tell me she was taking him in to see the doctor. About 45 minutes later, she called me again and said I needed to come to the doctor’s office right away, and that they were extremely concerned about his symptoms. A few minutes after I arrived, the doctor informed us that our little guy needed to go to the hospital, and that the safest way to get him there was by ambulance, since he already had a few tubes and wires connected to him, and they needed to closely monitor him while he was being transported. Kelly rode in the ambulance with him and I followed them in our car. Kelly would talk for years about the sad, scared, defeated look I had on my face, which was flushed of any color, as I drove behind them to get to the hospital. They admitted Nolan to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and he had even more tubes and wires connected to him. That was surreal and shocking and frightening to see my first and only son, just a five-week-old baby, lying in a hospital bed, attached to all of that medical equipment, with doctors and nurses checking on him and poking and prodding on a regular basis. For two to three days, the doctors could not figure out what was going on, and they could not tell us if he was going to get better or not.
Needless to say, that was an incredibly difficult experience to go through and we were beside ourselves with worry. I’m not sure I’ve ever prayed as intensely as I did during those 48-72 hours. He survived and recovered; they never did quite figure it out other than to give their best guess that some type of virus hit him really hard. Here’s why I share all of that: As time went on, I actually went back to the Pediatric ICU and also to the Neonatal ICU (for very sick and premature newborn infants), but in those cases I went to visit someone else whose children had been admitted there. It was quite an experience trying to help and comfort others who were going through what I had gone through myself. The nurses and other staff members in those units were the closest thing to angels that I’ve seen in my life, and as one person said it, that’s the part of the hospital where God hangs out.
My own suffering allowed me to speak with credibility to other people in pain because I had been in their shoes. I had “been there and done that.” I had walked the road they were now having to walk. When I would talk, other broken people would listen because what I said, and what I did, carried weight, not because I’m anything special, but because I had been through the same type of experience they were now dealing with.
When it comes to Jesus, He can do this very thing for us in any and every situation we might face in this life. Once again, He’s “been there and done that.” For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Troy Burns