Monday, September 5, 2016

A Story about Jesus

As I think about stories of miraculous, divine healing, I can't help but conclude that they are, in general, terrible stories. As meaningful, as incredible, as beautiful as these moments of healing are for the blind man, for the paralytic, for the woman with the issue of blood, for you, for me, it's far too easy for us as readers, as hearers, as outsiders to dismiss so much of the narrative that leads into the moment of healing.

It's so easy for us to look at the paralytic now walking and say, "He has no idea what it's like."

He has no idea what it's like to be paralyzed, we say. He has no idea what it's like to be stuck in a body that doesn't work. Look at him, walking around, like his former paralysis was nothing at all. Look at the woman who had an issue of bleeding. She has no idea what it's like. She bled for twelve years! Yet here we are, and it's easy for us to say that she hasn't got a clue. She doesn't know the struggle. Look at the blind man. He doesn't even know. He doesn't know what it's like to stumble around in darkness. Look at him just navigate effortlessly through the world, all by the gift of sight. He hasn't got a clue about the struggle. 

It's amazing how easily we do this. We look at someone who has been healed, someone who no longer lives under the burden of a certain brokenness, and it's far too easy for us to conclude that they haven't got a clue. That they don't really know brokenness at all. Because their journey seems to be over. Because their brokenness has been healed. They may tell the story, wanting their healing to be something meaningful, but it just rings hollow for most of us because it's so difficult for us to imagine the story of sorrow that underlies the tremendous joy that we now see. 

All miraculous healing stories are "you had to be there" stories. You had to be there for the thousands of hours of chemo. You had to be there by the pool of Siloam. You had to be there for the doctor's appointments and the nervous waiting and the risky surgeries. You had to be there for the uncleanness and the desperation. You had to be there for the stumbling and the falling and the wondering and the aching. You had to be there for the holy moment. 

Otherwise, whatever. It's cool, I guess. 


And that's why, I think, we don't get more of these stories in the Gospels. (By "more," I don't mean quantitatively, but qualitatively.) It's why we don't get more background on the blind men. It's why we don't have any more details about the issue of blood. It's why we don't know what paralyzed the man in the first place or how the other man's arm became deformed. None of that matters. None of that would help us to appreciate the healing. None of that would help to frame the miracle in a way that it would be miraculous to us.

And that's why all good miracle stories are more about the Healer than the healed. 

When we read the Gospels, we get an image not of brokenness and miracles, but of a Miracle Worker. We get the sense that this Jesus really knows what He's doing. When He takes the blind man aside, we see His tenderness. Blindness is not some inconvenience for Him; it's a brokenness, and He treats it as such. When He speaks with the paralytic, we see a heart set on relationship, on making a real connection with the man. Not because he's a paralytic in need of some mercy, but because he's a human being in need of some love. 

We appreciate the stories of the miracles not because they are healing, which is probably nice an all for the ones being healed, but because they are revelation - they show us the heart of the One who has come to heal. And we know from these stories that this Jesus? He gets it. He understands. He knows what we're up against, how it aches inside of us, how it hurts our hearts. He knows how we long not just for a healing touch, but for a human one. He knows the struggle of doctors and consults and waiting and hoping and praying and longing and uncleanness and brokenness and ache. He not only knows it, He appreciates it. He honors it. And then, He heals it. 

It's so easy for us to talk about healing in terms of our own stories - in terms of our own lives and our own hearts and our own aches. Because these stories change our stories. They mean so much to us. We know how long is the road that brought us to a point like this and how rich the mercy that has been poured out in healing. We get it. They're nice stories. But...whatever. 

The real story isn't that one. The real story isn't ours. It's His. Because it's His story that truly convinces the broken that there is a Healer. It's His story that tells them that there is hope. It's His story that reminds them that there is Someone out there who gets it, someone who knows. 

So by all means, tell your story. Please. Where would we be without the blind men, the paralytic, the woman with the issue of blood? But tell His story, too.

Because that's the one that the broken need to hear. 

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