I can’t imagine

More from Rich Dixon


As numbers spike, as “front line workers” find themselves stretched too thin in every direction again, as temporary morgues appear again, as we wonder how this can possibly be happening again, we shake our heads and whisper, “I can’t imagine.”

Maybe you follow Jon on Facebook. Maybe you know he describes what it’s like to walk hospital halls as a chaplain each day, to offer comfort to those in ICU and patient rooms. Maybe you know he watches and doesn’t know how to help as hospital staff struggles with an increasing cycle of avoidable death and grief.

I believe Jesus wants us to step beyond I can’t imagine.

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One of the first things I learned as a follower of Jesus was, “If you did it not for the least of these, you did it not for me.”

This passage was Jesus’ invitation to empathy. He went beyond asking us to care for the sick, the stranger, the marginalized. He went beyond saying we would find Him among those folks. In this verse, Jesus says He IS those folks. If we turn away from them, we turn away from Him.

So it’s one thing to believe Jesus walks the halls of Jon’s hospital in His Rabbi’s robe and sandals. Kneeling beside beds, holding hands, weeping and grieving with those who can’t find a way forward. It’s one thing to believe He comforts overwhelmed staff members near the breaking point where one more unnecessary death might send them over the edge.

Nice image, but Jesus goes farther. He says He IS those folks. He’s says He’s actually wearing scrubs and emptying bedpans and collapsing at the end of another double shift. And if we do nothing to help – if we refuse simple things like masks and vaccines and social distancing – if we turn away from them, we turn away from Him.

“I can’t imagine” gives me an easy way out.

But if Jesus is there – I hope I won’t turn away.

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This simple little song (especially its last line) had a lot to do with my first understandings of Jesus.

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