And he will be our peace. Micah 5:5a
When I had my first panic attack, I had no idea what was going on. Confused and terrified, I spent most of that night in the ER. While I waited to be admitted, I noticed a young man with red hair who was also waiting. We were the only two in the waiting area, and we were both there for at least half an hour, me experiencing the end of a three hour panic attack, and him sitting restlessly in the seats near the fake plants. I noticed that he had some blood on his face and that he seemed uncomfortable. As I was being questioned before being admitted to the hospital, I heard them call him up: “Sean, please bring your insurance information to the desk.”
When I was admitted, the medical staff did a series of tests over several hours, so I spent a lot of time in a small private room, just waiting. I had to leave the room at one point to use one of the public restrooms on the floor, and just when I was about to unlock the bathroom door and come back to my room, I heard shouting on the other side of the door. “Sean, go back to your room! Sean, follow the nurse!” Then Sean yelled a few expletives and I could hear him stomping his feet and kicking the walls. “I’m calling the police,” said the receptionist, while I heard several other staff people work to restrain Sean. I decided it wasn’t a good idea to leave the bathroom at that point, as the police arrived and it took at least twenty minutes for Sean to be confined to his room. Later in the evening, as I went into the room for my CAT scan, Sean came out, having just had one of his own. The blood was wiped off his face, his body was limp, and his eyes looked vacant now.
“And he will be our peace,” the prophet Micah writes about the coming Messiah. Jesus came to this earth as a baby to experience all of the joy and sorrow of human life. He came to dwell with us in the brokenness of our bodies and minds, and to bring peace and life to the darkness of this world. I’ve thought about Sean many times since my ER visit. I don’t know if he had a psychological problem or a brain injury or something else going on, but I do know that in my mind, I separated myself from him, thinking that I was superior to him that night as the doctors, nurses, and police restrained him. Whatever my problem was (and it turned out to be clinical anxiety, which often manifests in physical symptoms), Sean’s was worse. And yet, “he came to be our peace.” Jesus did not come to be peace just for me, struggling with anxiety and panic attacks. He came to be peace for Sean, too, harassed by a different kind of suffering from mine.
Who have you decided you are better than? Who do you separate yourself from, thinking that your problems are better than theirs, that your sins aren’t as bad, that your opinions and deeds are praiseworthy in comparison to anything they have thought or done? Maybe it’s someone with a different political perspective, someone who has estranged themselves from their family and friends, or someone with a chronic illness. Let Jesus’ peace grow compassion in you, and the next time you think of that person, remember: “He will be our peace.” That is my prayer for Sean.