Friday, October 02, 2009

The Great Equalizer?

Lately I have been hearing a lot about friends who are overwhelmed with everything going on around them. To be quite frank, I am also in that same boat on a number of different fronts. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this seeming overwhelmed state is the fact that it seems like in these times of too much stuff going on, and too many responsibilities being expected of us, people are still pulling on you, and still asking you to speak into their lives, offer them counsel and be a good friend. I mean the nerve! Don't they see that I need some alone time?! I'm mostly joking, but the truth is that it's difficult. And of course, it never fails that in moments when selfishness like what I just described pops up, I stumble across some scripture that both encourages and challenges me in a major way about that very thing. So it was for me today.

This morning, I was reading through Matthew, and more specifically Matthew 14. In verse 13, Jesus has just learned about the death of his cousin John (or John the Baptist to those Bible story readers amongst us). Understandably upset and probably a little distraught by the news, Jesus pulls away to be by Himself. Now, it would be spiritual and "Jesus-like" to presume that He pulled away to pray, but I would venture to believe that part of that pulling away was His human side. The side that grieves and knew that John was killed because of what both of them stood for. Jesus was (probably) sad and needed some time to think, process and be human when confronted with the loss of someone He loved. But the crowds would have none of it.

Let's for a second ignore the question of how the crowd knew where to find Jesus and just acknowledge that they did. Here Jesus was, hurt, wounded, and knowing on a number of levels that it was only a matter of time before a similar fate came to Him, and what does the Bible say of Him when He saw the people? "He had compassion on them and healed their sick." So moved was Christ by the plight of those around Him, that even at the expense of His time to grieve, He reached out to them so that they could be whole. It's easy to think that this represents the great lesson in this passage, but I would venture to say that there is still a greater one waiting in the wings.

Verse 16 starts the recounting of the feeding of the 5000+ who had gathered to hear Jesus speak or have their lives changed by an encounter with Him. So, somehow out of the midst of His pain, Jesus was able to not only have compassion on people to heal, but also to perform what is chronicled as one of the greatest miracles in Biblical history? Is it possible that our weaknesses, our sorrows, our pains and our difficulties are fertile ground for God to do mightier miracles than if we were 100% complete? Is it possible that one of the reasons that we endure hardships and persevere, all while being called upon to minister to those around us is because God is showing us that in those moments we know that we have need of something outside of ourselves? One of Jesus' most talked about miracles happened when He was in despair and still had compassion. What is God wanting to do in our lives and the lives of others through us if we would trust Him to use our sorrow as a place where miracles grow and God's power is seen? Is it possible that sorrow and difficulty are the great equalizers because God reminds us that there is little we have to operate from apart from Him?

I'm not sure what this looks like in daily application, but I encourage your thoughts and ask, where has God ministered to others in your life when you found yourself weakened?

Live Passionately. Pursue. Original.

No comments: