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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Binding The Wounds

I would like to relate a short story:

  "Once, there was a traveler who went on a long journey. While part of the way to his destination, he was robbed. The thieves stripped him naked, beat him, wounded him, and took all he had, leaving him for dead. Now the traveler clung to what little strength he had and fought to stay alive, hoping a compassionate soul would stop to help him. 
   After awhile, a religious leader came by. When he saw the man who had been robbed, he went to the other side of the road and kept on going.
   Later, another religious leader came by. Unlike the first one, he at least stopped to look at the hurting fellow. But he also went to the other side and kept going.
  Still later, a foreigner came by but, this time, his heart was moved with compassion. Putting his own travel plans on hold, he stopped to help the man who had been robbed. He poured oil and wine (known for their medicinal properties) into the stinging wounds of his "brother" in pain. Placing him on his own means of transportation, he took him to a local B&B. After caring for him further, he told the owner to look after him. Putting the wounded's expenses on his own bill, he left the man in the owner's care."

 Some of you may recognize this as a paraphrase of the story of the good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37. Often, we use this as an example of what compassion looks like. I certainly agree and yet, recently, I began to see a deeper meaning in this parable:
 "Once there was a traveler who went on a long journey." The traveler, the religious leaders, and the foreigner were all journeying somewhere. So are we. All of us are on the road of life. Each is, perhaps, at a different place along the way or maybe travels at a different pace. But we're all there together.
 "While part of the way to his destination, he was robbed. The thieves stripped him naked, beat him, wounded him, and took all he had, leaving him for dead. Now the traveler clung to what little strength he had and fought to stay alive, hoping some compassionate soul would stop to help him." This life hurts sometimes. Along the way, there are those who aren't so kind to us. They want to hurt us, rob us of our peace, our joy, and our strength. They take all that we have emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and sometimes physically...leaving us to die in our misery and despair. Not all who travel this journey have our best interests in mind. Wounded and bleeding, we hope that someone will come to our aid. We need a healing touch...
 "After awhile, a religious leader came by. When he saw the man who had been robbed, he went to the other side of the road and kept on going." Sadly, there are times when the faith community is preoccupied. One would think that those who claim to have a personal relationship with Jesus would be among the most caring. Too many times, however, as followers of God, we aren't willing to enter into someone else's pain. Content to simply offer a "helpful" scripture verse or two, we then say, "I'll be praying for you," before we pass on. Unfortunately, sometimes we don't even follow through with our promise to pray for the hurting. Our churches, our Christian circles, ought to be places where the wounded can heal but, so often, this is not the case.
 "Later, another religious leader came by. Unlike the first, he at least stopped to look at the hurting fellow. But he also went to the other side and kept going. Still later, a foreigner came by but, this time, his heart was moved with compassion. Putting his own travel plans on hold, he stopped to help the man who had been robbed. He poured oil and wine (known for their medicinal properties) into the stinging wounds of his 'brother' in pain. Placing him on his own means of transportation, he took him to a local B&B. After caring for the man further, he told the owner to look after him. Putting the wounded's expenses on his own bill, he left the man in the owner's care." Sometimes, the kind word or caring act we seek may come from an unexpected source. This foreigner not only stopped to listen to the man's horrific story, but he also cared for him and made the man's pain his own. He entered into the wounded's suffering.
  So often, we are like the religious leaders - we only go so far. We are afraid to get close to the broken, to come alongside them and face their pain with them, speaking words of comfort, healing, and life. Much of the time, unlike the traveler, all that the hurting are wanting is the gift of your presence. They don't always want answers. Just someone who will walk through the pain with them so that they do not walk alone. It makes me wonder if that foreigner had faced some pain in his own life and knew what it felt like to be left alone...
  Of course, this foreigner is an example of Jesus and how He deals with the broken: " He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" (Psalm 147:3). He is never afraid to enter into our pain and may even draw closer in our time of need, however far away we think He is. When others fail to provide the comfort we need, He will always be there to offer it. Once He comes into our situation, He does not leave us. He sees it through to completion.
  Jesus and the foreigner have much to teach us about reaching out to the broken. May we take their example to heart and strive to be the ones who enter into another's pain in love. This world has plenty of people who wound. It needs more who will help to heal. Let us not be counted with those who pass on the other side but be willing to tend to the hurts of those we encounter along life's journey. After all, if we have done it to the least of these, we have done it unto God (Matthew 25:40).