The blind and lame. Outcasts. Women with colorful histories and men who cheated others out of hard earned money. People with bitter hearts and those who had lost faith in God because of corrupt systems. These represent some of the people Jesus helped, with problems ranging from physical ailments to seemingly unconquerable personal prejudices and vices.
It’s easy to put on a brave face, try to flex my spiritual muscles, and say I’m going to help “those” people like Jesus did, but in all honesty I am those people. I find myself constantly in need of God’s grace and mercy. It’s everything I depend on. It’s all I truly have. Jesus longs to help in my weakness, but I have to be honest with Him and myself. There must be willingness to open up the dark places in my heart to His illuminating truth and love. When I am unafraid to open my mind and heart to Him, I can live freely in His unconditional acceptance and forgiveness. I can experience the work of healing and change He wants to continue in my life. However, being truthful before Jesus and presenting the parts of myself I am most afraid of or ashamed to explore can be acutely difficult. Because to receive help, I must first come to Him openly in my weakness. There can be no hiding in a genuine relationship when true healing is desired.
I often think about this when I read Matthew 12. Jesus showed He valued people more than traditional religious regulations and rules when he healed a man with a shriveled hand in a synagogue. What a wonderful demonstration of love to hurting humanity. I always seem to identify with the man who had to stretch out his shriveled hand for all in the synagogue to see. This may not seem like a a particularly courageous act with the promise of healing and restoration, but I think it was. This man lived in an honor/shame culture where social status is one factor among several that determines someone’s position and opportunities in society. A physical disability might have affected that. So when Jesus said, “Stretch out your hand” and all of the influential religious leaders and everyone else were watching closely, I always wonder whether the man was tempted to stretch out his “good” hand to avoid exposing the physical ailment and cultural shame everyone already knew he carried. But this man, whoever he was, courageously stretched out his shriveled hand to the only One who could help, revealing his physical problems and personal status in an honor/shame culture. And he was healed.
This morning as some old fears and bitterness surface in my heart, I know it would be easy to gloss over them, but as I slowly realize the extent of my need for healing, I am exploring these past wounds that sometimes plague my thinking and relationships in the present. I am reaching out to Jesus for help, knowing that He will not disappoint. God will continue to help me walk in greater freedom as He conforms me to the image of His son. This time of social distancing and loneliness has been a reminder that while I want to see God’s kingdom come in the lives of others, I must allow it to come in myself first. While such honest reflection can be uncomfortable, it reminds me I cannot rely on my own spiritual strength to conjure healing and hope for other people. Thankfully, I can receive them from the Source and share that Source with others. As Jesus gently gives me courage to face the darkness in myself and overcome it, I can share His strength with others. God is working ceaselessly to bring the hearts of humanity to Himself, starting with my own.
©2020Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved
Thanks for reading.
❤ , Chrissy