Recently I read about an old Tibetan tale of a young woman, Krisha, whose beloved baby became ill and died. She was, naturally, overcome with grief and walked through her city carrying her dead son and begging for medicine, something, anything, to bring her child back to life. She was mocked, she was pitied, she was thought to be insane. Finally, someone told her to go to Buddha who had all of the answers and cures. When she talked with Buddha, he told her to bring him back a mustard seed from the first home she came to that had not known death. To make a long story short, Krisha could not find a home that had not known death; she learned that suffering is a universal condition.
Scott Peck, MD, begins his best-seller, The Road Less Traveled, with this perspicuous statement: Life is difficult.
Jesus, the author of all truth, tells it like this:
Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world. John 16:33 NLT
Life will, at times, be hard Guaranteed. Sometimes excruciatingly so. None of us will be unscathed by sorrows (of people, of dreams, of expectations, of hopes) and none of us will escape trials.
But we don’t have to walk around crippled, handicapped, wallowing in pain or regret or grief. And we certainly don’t have to live within the confines of painful pasts. The key is in our response.
One of my favorite biblical accounts is found in Luke chapter 17 and it is a timely story for this holiday season, and for this message of freedom in the midst of sorrows.
Luke 17:11-19: There is a lot I could say but I’ll strive for brevity ’cause I’ve still got pies to bake. <grin>
There were ten of them.
Separated from others because of their disease. Lonely. Alienated. Unable to freely receive love, to freely give love, because of their condition. On the outside, looking longingly in. Sorrows? Trials? Absolutely.
Then they heard of The One. The One who caused the blind to see, the lame to walk, the dead to rise. Perhaps, like me, they were skeptical. But what did they have to lose? Luke 17:12 says as Jesus entered a certain village these ten men who stood afar off met Him. The greek word “met” has a connotation of hostility; I suspect they may have been angry when they met Him, may have been feeling, as I sometimes have, “Why did this happen to me?” Still, the scriptures say, they lifted their voices and cried out “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
He saw them, saw their suffering, and had mercy on them. That’s Who He is.
So when He saw them, He said to them “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” V14
And they were declared clean. Rid of the thing they thought was impeding their happiness, their joy, their fulfilment, the thing causing their lonliness. They could re-enter their communities with the stigma of “unclean” removed.
Apparently they want on their merry way.
But one of ‘em.
He knew the truth.
He knew there was so much more, more than simply cleansing of a disease, more than fitting in with others.
And one of them, when he saw he that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving thanks. V15
This one, this Samaritan – a man considered the least of these – gave thanks.
And in giving thanks, even before he knew how the story was going to end, he was made well.
So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the other nine? Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:17-19
There is a difference, my friends, in being rid of the thing that separates us from God (sin), being rid of the thing that separates us from others, being healed of a condition…and being made well, being made whole, being kept safe and sound. Wholeness comes from knowing the One who heals, not merely in the healing itself. The Samaritan leper had already been cleansed…yet when he comes to Christ in gratitude, Jesus declares him “well.” Something more than cleansed from his disease.
Wholeness, restoration, wellness – this goes far beyond our eternal destiny, our current physical or emotional healing; it goes beyond unpleasant conditions changed. Wholeness means we are complete, we are satisfied, we are joyful, we are aware of who God is even when circumstances are tough; it means even when we have those sorrows and trials and questions we are still able to see beauty around us with a grateful heart because we know who keeps us.
Yes, there is so much more in Christ than the amazing, unfathomable gift of being reconciled to God, to knowing that we will one day be face to face with the Redeemer.
There is delight beyond description in the here and now.
And it begins with gratitude.
Life is difficult.
In this world, we will have seasons of trials and sorrow. Buddha, Peck and others share this truth.
But take heart! Jesus does more than speak of this truth. He has overcome the sorrows of this world.
Give thanks to the Overcomer.
Happy Thanksgiving, Dear Ones. In giving thanks, may you be made complete.
Grateful for this wonderful life,
Marie with a 🙂