Thursday, January 20, 2011

Persistence

So many people I know are suffering. A young mom valiantly battling cancer that has yet to stop spreading. An adorably expressive 2-year-old little girl who looks completely healthy but bears the label of a deadly disease with no cure. A soon-to-be mom carrying twins on bed rest playing the waiting game of balancing what comes first - her health or the babies. Friends whose marriages are dissolving. Friends with marriages teetering on the brink of disaster. Beautiful young women who have had their purity stolen from them and are left to pick up the pieces of what used to be their innocent lives. Addictions. Assault. Disease. Loneliness. Anxiety. Depression. Spiritual emptiness. What on earth can I offer these people? The burden has kept me awake well into the night and the heaviness of their sadness weighs on me each morning.

I almost didn't go to the gym this morning. I felt physically exhausted and was mentally drained. My house is a mess, I have piles of things that need to get done and I just didn't think I had it in me to go work out. But I knew I could ride the bike and read the Word at the same time so I made myself go. Katie (our eight year old daughter) and I decided to read the New Testament cover to cover this year. Our assigned reading has us in the book of Matthew and I've really been enjoying it. Matthew often highlights Jesus' power to heal both physical and spiritual disease. He tells a story at the end of chapter 20 that really spoke to me today.

Jesus and his disciples leave Jericho and are heading toward Jerusalem. Everywhere they go, they attract quite a crowd and cause chaos. Amid the dust, the crowds, and the chaos are two blind beggars. Homeless, dirty and lacking any money, they were not the type of people you want front and center on the parade route of a powerful leader. Nonetheless, they realize Jesus is coming down the road, push their way to the edge of the crowd and start shouting at the top of their lungs, "LORD, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US!!!" Can't you just picture it? The homeless man on the street corner with the "will work for food" sign that we all ignore and try not to make eye contact with is not only engaging with the upper class but is begging for help from a national leader. It's a media magnet's dream story.

People in the crowd get embarrassed and annoyed and try to get them to be quiet, "but they shouted all the louder, 'LORD, SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US!'" These two blind men are so loud, persistent and uninhibited that they attract Jesus' attention and He stops to talk to them. He asks them one simple question. "What do you want me to do for you?" They replied, "Lord, we want our sight." The text says, "Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him."

These men knew they had a problem that no doctor, no counselor, no amount of money and no psychologist could fix. So they went to the only One who could fix them and then screamed and yelled persistently until He answered. It was if God was saying to me, "Jodi, you can't fix all these people you love and I don't expect you to. What you can do is point them to the One who loves them more than you who wants to bring them healing. Encourage them to ask Jesus to heal their diseases, their marriages, and their spiritual emptiness. Tell them to be persistent. To be obnoxious. To scream and holler and persist until they get an answer. 'For with man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.' (Matthew 19:26)"

I got off that bike much lighter than when I got on. The burden I walked into the gym with was lifted and resting comfortably at the foot of the cross. To those loved ones who I've been praying for, don't lose hope. Jesus is asking you, "What do you want me to do for you?" He has compassion on your situation. He will answer and we can have confidence that His answer is just what we need. Sometimes we just have to ask persistently before we get our answer.

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