"Choliy" is the Hebrew word for "grief" in Isaiah 53:3. Choliy translates as "sickness," and is used 22 times in the Bible, all in context of those who had incurable and severe disease and illness. The "He" referred to in Isaiah 53 is our Lord Jesus Christ. We don't often think of Jesus as acquainted with sickness or grief, but I'm hoping that this personal story that the Lord divinely intervened in, will help enlighten this beautiful truth more for you and draw you closer to Him as it did me.
"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." ~ Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)
Last year, I was dealing with severe gastrointestinal challenges, and needed a central line placed so I could receive artificial nutrition called TPN through my veins. The procedure involved putting in a PICC line, which for most people is not a huge deal. For me however, I have had over 25 PICC lines placed throughout my life in both arms, so my veins are extremely scarred, some are collapsed, twisted, and unable to support a large catheter in them without spasming and leaking fluid. I have a port, which is also central line access, but we did not want to risk exposing my port to TPN due to infection and clogging risks that came with using TPN Plus we needed a secondary long lasting venous access point, thus a PICC line was the only option remaining.
This was an extremely painful procedure that was done with me awake as any sedation was too risky with my respiratory condition as I was also battling another lung infection. This procedure had been done four times already in one week, caused immense pain, so I was obviously dreading this fifth one, but I did not know it would turn into such an extensive and traumatic experience. I knew from past experience that I couldn’t tolerate the sounds of the surgical tools rattling and cutting and the discussion between the medical personnel regarding the procedure, so the surgeon allowed me have my phone and AirPod bluetooth earbuds to listen to music to drown out the sounds, distract me from the physical pain and keep my medical PTSD issue at bay. As long as I kept the phone and AirPods far away from the surgical site and under the sterile surgical drapings, there would not be an issue. I laid down on the operating table, put in my earbuds, pushed play on one of my playlists and set my phone on my stomach under the sterile surgical draping, and I gave them consent to begin.
I was strapped down to the operating table and had a surgical draping cover my entire body to prevent infection to the surgical site, and they began cutting into my arm and threading metal wires into large veins in an attempt to find a vein straight enough and big enough to thread a 16 inch catheter in it to eventually rest in the top of my heart where it would sit long-term. It should have been a quick 20 minute long procedure, but it turned into a 2 hour long procedure with horrible pain to the point of me shaking uncontrollably, drenched from sweating profusely, and tears pouring down my face. The pain was excruciating and the feeling of the wires moving through my arms and chest was extremely uncomfortable. The nurses occasionally tried to calm me down and gently hold me as best they could, but with no success of comfort as the pain was too strong and their attempted comforts only lasted a few seconds before they had to assist the surgeon once more. My AirPods had fallen out of my ears onto the operating table as I was shaking so violently, and now I had no distraction whatsoever from my misery with my music gone. Comments of “this is a rare situation" and "we’re running out of options” and “get me more gauze, she’s bleeding a lot” were now easily overheard, which didn't help my discomfort any. I could feel blood pouring profusely down my arms as they were desperately working simultaneously on both arms just to get venous access, my body was throbbing in pain, I was angry and squirming as much as I could despite being strapped to the operating table, and my mind could only go to one place of refuge: prayer to Christ. So that is exactly where I went!
As I prayed silently, I’ll admit I was angry, upset, sad, and felt so alone. No family was permitted in the hospital, so I had to do it alone with no comforting hug from a family member to look forward to afterwards. With my teeth clenched tightly from the pain, I distraughtly prayed to Jesus, “I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I’ve had enough. Why is this happening? No one should ever have to go through this! This is torture. Where are You?! Help me, please! I can't do this. I can't. Help me. Doesn't anyone understand this agony? No one gets it! Please help me. Make it stop! ”
All of a sudden, I realized the true gravity of Christ’s sacrifice of death on a cross for us. As He was both human and God, He felt pain, grief, and sorrow on so many levels. Though my agony continued despite my prayer of begging Him to make it stop and help me, He was helping me understand, and I found new distraction as I now intently focused on His gentle teaching:
My body was strapped to the operating table with my arms stretched out to each side, my arms and wrists tied down firmly so my arms would stay stable while they did the procedure, warm blood was pouring down my arms and dripping onto the floor, and pain was surging through my body. Yet Christ was nailed to a cross in a horribly painful position with blood gushing from his hands, head, feet, and body where the nails pierced his flesh and bone, undeserved whippings had left gashes in his body, thorns pressed harshly into his head, and overall pain and fatigue were pulsating through his body as a whole.
As I was held to the operation table, I was unable to move and get away from this terrible procedure, and yet He was horrifyingly held down to a rough cross with nails and couldn’t remove Himself from His situation as He obediently submitted to the Father’s will.
I felt so alone with no loved one to talk to or comfort me neither during the procedure nor afterwards as the doctors and nurses were caught up in dealing with the medical complications that had occurred and covid had barred all loved ones from being with me, and yet Christ was forsaken by His very own Father, one of His disciples, and separated from a gentle touch of His mother or loved ones as he bore the death penalty.
I was angry that this much pain and trauma was occurring to me unfairly, and yet the most unfair act of all was Jesus taking on death as the penalty of sins so that we might live eternally, free from the Father's wrath and death.
Now even more tears poured down my face, but this time not purely from pain, but rather from the added understanding of just a tiny taste of what Christ endured for us. Sorrow filled my heart as I realized that it was my sin that put Him there, and yet He chose to go through with His agonizing sacrifice so that I may be granted salvation. My sorrow was replaced with comfort as I could almost hear Jesus say to me, “I understand. I’ve been there. I’m here and I love you.” He knows. He's acquainted with grief and sorrow. He's understands. Let Him teach you, comfort you, and love you. Aren't you grateful that we have a Savior who was acquainted with sickness, grief, sorrow and pain?
"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ." ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)