Devotion – July 8 – “Absorbing the Hate and the Hurt”
Matthew records a healing of Jesus. It is short and too the point, and because of its brevity, I think it is easy to lose sight of how important that moment was. The healing is found it Matthew 8:1-3:
“When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.’ He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, ‘I do choose. Be made clean!’ Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”
Being only three verses, it is easy to read and move on without thinking of the implications this moment had on the both people involved here: the leper and Jesus.
At this moment the leper got his life back! Not only was he healed of this potentially fatal disease, but in his healing he would be able, once again, to return to his family and community.
We must remember that once leprosy was diagnosed, the individual had to leave his or her village behind and had to spend perhaps the rest of their lives in seclusion, or with others suffering from the same disease. For this man, the three short and simple words, “Be made clean,” meant everything to him.
But I think we often fail to see the implications this act had in Jesus’ life. It says that Jesus “stretched out his hand and touched him.” He touched a leper! This was more than a cardinal sin, it might be a death sentence! No one touched a leper. But, what happened? Jesus absorbed the disease. Jesus took the sickness upon himself. The Apostle Peter wrote: “He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross” (1 Peter 2:24). The prophet Isaiah put it this way: “Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted” (Isaiah 53:4). How did and does Jesus overcome sin and sickness, hate and evil? He absorbed it and takes it upon himself.
I’ll be honest with you all. ... I find myself at times feeling very low in body and soul over what is happening in our country. Covid-19 surges again due to poor leadership and foolish behavior and we face a time of great racial tension where hate-filled words are spewed across our country.
In my own life, I find that if I don’t take these deep and sad pains first to God in prayer, my anger grows and my first instinct is it to return angry words with my own angry words. But this is not helpful, in fact, it plays into Satan’s hand – for his desire is for hate and division to overtake us.
What do we do in the face of so much confusion, anger, pain, hate and ignorance? We do as Jesus did, and the very first step we need to take is to absorb it. We have to take it into ourselves and keep it there, rather than letting it bounce off us and hit someone else, and worse, we return the evilness with evilness of our own. We have to absorb all the evil, because by doing so, we stop it from continuing.
I give you all a challenge for the coming months, and I’m not going to lie, it isn’t going to be easy, fun, or even uplifting. It is going to be hard, painful and will cause you to shed a thousand tears outwardly and in our soul. I am asking all of you to absorb the hate and anger. Take it into yourself and pray it out For only when we take it in, make it a part of our own being, our very own bodies and souls, only when we can understand why such words are being said and where they are coming from, only then can we address things in a helpful way. Only when we embrace it all, can we free one another from it all.
Yes, there are things we need to do. We must act and I’ll speak more about that next week, but before we can act, we have to be right in Spirit, and in the frame of reference given to us by God, not by own anger, frustrations and hurts.
This is a hard challenge, but I am asking you all to do it, for your sake, for the sake of others, for the sake of our communities, nation and world. I know this is a big ask that Jesus is giving us. But, it is more vital now than ever before. Don’t fear the journey, because when we give this pain to God, wonderful things happen. I’ll share a bit more about that with you on Saturday.
For now, absorb it all – take it to God and let ONLY God’s words and ways guide you.
~ Blessings, Dan