The Customized Caring of Jesus

Birds of the AirI was reading in John (The Message version) this morning. I love how Peterson’s phrasing gets me to look at passages in a fresh way. I read about several of the miracles – the official’s dead daughter, blind men, the woman who touched his robe, demon possessed, etc..

Then, that chapter ends and in the last paragraph I saw this: “He…healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke…”

A couple things struck a chord with me. First is how he used very particular methods to heal each person. He could have been like the evangelists on T.V., slapped everyone on the forehead and spouted, “Be healed!” Instead, he took each case on its own and found creative ways and specific words to tend to the wounds of each individual.

It says he “healed their bruised and hurt lives”. He wasn’t only tending to physical needs – this implies he was dealing with heart pain, anxiety, grief, abuse – you name it.

I think He (meaning the God-man Jesus, not just some out-there, big, invisible God) is still doing stuff like that today – even though we aren’t experiencing it as directly.

If you have a bruised and hurting life right now, Jesus looks upon you the same way He did that crowd, and His heart aches for you. He is there for you in a specific way with a healing of singular design. I have no idea what that looks like, but I hope that one day you will be able to look back on your time of pain and recognize His hand in its mending.

“Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.”     ~Henri Nouwen

This might feel distant or hard to believe if you are stuck in the muck. If so, just tuck it away in a brain file so you can find it later.

A Restoration Revelation

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Surprise! It’s time for another big renovation – thank you sneaky kitchen faucet leak. First there is the big “event” – the shocking squish on the kitchen floor. Disaster team on the way – floors ripped up, hurricane fans and dehumidifiers for days. The house is louder than the tarmac at the Houston airport. Damage control.

Hmm – no kitchen sink or dishwasher – paper plates – insurance company – estimator. Estimator. Here it starts to get really interesting. Of course the floors are gone, but then there is all of the potential hidden damage you didn’t see coming. To prevent toxic mold from stealthily invading down the road, the cabinets should be dismantled, sheetrock ripped out, built-ins rebuilt, and on and on. How is it possible that a little water could cause so much damage?

But you do the work, you get the help, and you recover. You now know what is behind every wall and every cabinet door. And it’s all new.

I don’t know about you, but my heart can sure relate to this process. I’ve had my own stealthy leaks. Sometimes a leak is caused by a hole in the heart. Sometimes it’s not a leak – it’s more like a tornado that strikes without warning. But, either way, suddenly, there is this “event” – a phone call, a loved-one (or your own foolish self) found – barely breathing – face down in the mud, hospital doors, funeral home – a life-altering, giant squish that grabs us right in the gut.

And if we are not careful – if we don’t seek the right help – we might do a quick fix of the obvious and miss the hidden black growth of fear or resentment or shame that threatens to do far more damage than the original catastrophe.

Hopefully, we listen to the experts and we do the work. We open the cabinets of our heart, we tear down the walls, we rebuild our built-in assumptions about life. And, holy moly, it is messy business – the dust, the inconvenience! Every day we are vacuuming up the tiny little particles – the evidence of the very pain we are trying to extricate.

We are completely exposed for a time, and that is terrifying, but it can be empowering. In Committed: A Love Story, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

“To be fully seen by somebody, then, and to be loved anyhow – this is a human offering that can border on the miraculous.”

We get a chance to pause and ask ourselves what we want our life to look like, pick out the new coverings that will sit over our foundation. Sometimes, it’s far more serious. The very foundation is smashed to smithereens. And at times like that, the only way we make it through is with the backing and insurance of our family and friends and professionals.

With hope and patience, the new self, the new mind, the new relationship is built. As time passes in the new place, the haunting memories mercifully begin to fade. If we are fortunate, they linger just enough to keep us humble and thankful for the safe and mold-free walls that surround us.

“Your angels are dancing. Because you have been offered freedom from the prison of secrets. You have been offered the gift of crisis.” ~Glennon Doyle Melton in Carry on Warrior