Faith, life, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement, Stories from Scripture, Uncategorized
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Survivor Stories…why the world needs them

I read an amazing story by a blogger who happened to be in the Aurora AMC theater on the night of the terrible shooting. It’s worth reading.

As I read her account and her insistence on trusting in a merciful God in the midst of evil, I thought of the hundreds of people suffering crippling grief over the loss of the dozen lives and the injuries sustained by so many others.

I thought of the retelling of the events of that night, how over the next months the story will be told over and again by so many voices. Questions raised and answered, no answers, more questions.

I thought of the wounds and the healing and the honoring of innocent lives.

I thought of how many of us aren’t affected at all because we’re too busy, too detached, to interested in our own lives and entertainment and work and commitments.

My family’s life was also interrupted by the selfish, lawless act of another person. I suffered multiple morbidity injuries and deal with pain daily because someone else broke the law and drove impaired and hit our van. I don’t know the particular horror of that Aurora theater, but I do know the strangeness of surviving. I know the gratitude of finding yourself still breathing and the need for answers and justice. I know the long road to recovering physically and emotionally.

I do know that evil steps in but that does not, in any way disprove the existence of a good God. It simply proves the existence of evil.

During the talk on Sunday at Life Center, pastor Joe focused on two words in the middle of the story about the blind beggar, Bartimaeus, who met Jesus near Jericho on the road into Jerusalem. {Mark 10:46-52}

“Jesus stopped.”

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, where he knew what awaited. This journey would be later called the triumphal entry {see Mark 11}. He would enter the city on a young donkey, celebrate passover with his disciples, pray in the garden of Gethsemene and finally be betrayed.

His death by crucifixion was impending, just days ahead. Yet, when the blind beggar persistently called after Jesus and asked to see again, Jesus stopped. The King James says “he stood still”.

He became still at the single voice of one man and turned all of his focus on that one man who called his name.

Jesus could have pressed forward, eager for the excitement of his entry into Jerusalem. He could have marched sternfaced ahead, overwhelmed with the burden to come. He could have busied himself with the crowd. But he stopped and listened, focused on Bartimaeus.

Jesus stood still, heard him and healed him. He gave salvation to someone who called out from the darkness of his life, “Jesus!”.

That it the way Jesus responds to all of us, whether we are survivors of the horrors of shooting or an accident or war or whether we are the survivors of life. If we’ve suffered abuse, rejection, criticism, hate and we have lost our vision, we can call out and he will stop to hear us.

The phrase in the text that leapt of the page to me was this:

“I want to see again.” {vs 51, NIV}

Somehow, some way Bartimaeus’ life was interrupted and permanently altered and he lost his eyesight.

Whatever plans Bartimaeus or his family had for him were inalterably ruined. His vocation deleted. Any marriage would be called off. Any course he may have taken, any success he may have known, any value in life he may have relished was stripped of him. Perhaps an illness or accident stole away his sight; perhaps he suffered a congenital condition and his eyesight diminished. However it occurred, the man was left impoverished, sightless a blight on society, a drain on resources, a ruined man.

Sometimes evil steps in and takes something it has no right to take. Evil is a thief.

Injustice of any shade leaves behind broken dreams, broken hearts, crippled souls. It doesn’t seem fair.

Sometimes it’s horrifying.

It isn’t right. But, Bartimaeus, and you and I, we all have a choice when evil steps in and in its wake the brokeness impedes on living: call out after the savior, or not.

Trust in his goodness, his justice, or not.

Allow him to heal our hearts and reveal the life he has had planned for us, or not.

I have ended many sentences with the word “again” these past several months.

I want to live a day without pain…again.

I want to sleep without an icepack on my leg…again.

I want to run…again.

I want to feel normal…again.

In the weeks following the accident, after I’d come home and tried to resume the normal routine of my life, I was so discouraged because the routine was going on all around me, but I was sidelined. Benched. Leg up propped and iced, I waited while my body worked hard to recover from the trauma. Healing was happening within me, but I felt like so much had happened to me that rendered me helpless and I was sad and troubled. I wanted to be well…again.

I’m sure that something has interrupted your life, too, and caused you to say “again”.  Have you turned to calling on Jesus? Are you craving peace restored? Are you starving for joy? Are you desperate for the freedom of forgiveness?

In a society that ostracized the handicapped and diseased, Bartimaeus could only beg for his daily ration. How many months, years maybe, had God provided for and sustained him for this very moment when he would hear Jesus’ arrival at the city gate? Why had God allowed Bartimaeus to be blinded and begging anyway? What kind of God would allow that?

A merciful one.

A God who knew that generations of people would read the seven verses in the book of Mark dedicated to Bartimaeus’ encounter with the Messiah, Jesus. The disciples and onlookers that day were forced to see Bartimaeus as Jesus saw him, forced to stop and care about a less-than-nobody handicapped homeless man.

By reading the story in Mark chapter 10, you and I and millions of others gain greater understanding:

– We understand that Bartimauus was a victim of circumstance, that he was ripped off of a natural, human right: his eyesight.

– We get to glimpse through this story the concern that the savior of the world had shown to this solitary man.

–  We get to read the account of a survivor of evil and his life-changing encounter with Jesus.

– We can corporately acknowledge and agree that while the world may kick us when we’re down, may take away the things and people most precious to us, the world may not take away our hope.

Evil may not steal our faith.

Bartimaeus was a survivor and his story was told each day while he begged alms at the gate to Jerusalem. The idea of Jesus, the promised Messiah, perhaps sustained his faith, however small. Bartimaeus kindled hope in his heart despite the darkness of his life. He believed that if he had seen once, he may be able to see again, with the touch of Jesus.

That is why a survivor’s story is so necessary. Because there is darkness in this world and it looms at the door of our lives, threatening to sweep in at any moment and overtake us.

But the presence of evil confirms the concept of good. Those of us who believe in a good, just, merciful God who created all we see and understand and don’t understand must band our survival stories together in the volume that will continue to call out, Jesus!

Why?

Because there are others in the dark, lost and begging and wondering ‘why’. They need us to stand still and hear them and offer them Jesus. 

He is our only hope.

Linked at these great communities:

Michelle DeRusha at Graceful

LL at Seedlings in Stone

Laura Bogess at Playdates at the Wellspring

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2 Comments

  1. Joy says

    If we call upon His name, He will hear our voice & He will answer! What a blessing to be His child!

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