Our theme for this morning’s meditation is “God suffers in all those who suffer in this world.” Many of us have gone through terrible times of suffering and may be some of you are going through it now and are wondering whether God understands your suffering and will do something about it.
Throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus, we see that he was moved with compassion whenever he saw someone sick or suffering and healed them. Our God is a God of compassion and mercy and he understands the pain of suffering.
In the Old Testament reading from the book of Kings we notice that an army commander of Aram named Namaan was a mighty soldier and highly regarded but he was a patient of leprosy. In olden times leprosy was seen as an untouchable disease and people who had leprosy were ostracized. Normally, they had to live outside the city limits and had to cry out, ‘unclean, unclean’ whenever they saw people. In Namaan’s case the condition is probably not advanced for he is still serving in the King’s army.
In Namaan’s house there was a little captive young girl from Israel who served Namaan’s wife. The servant girl told Namaan’s wife that there was a prophet in Israel who could cure his leprosy. The little girl whose name is not mentioned is moved with compassion for her master. Namaan then goes and tells the king about the possibility of being healed by this prophet in Israel. The king of Aram sent him to the king of Israel asking him to cure him of his leprosy. The king of Israel tore his robes and said, “Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!”
When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent a message to him asking Namaan to be sent to him so that he would know that there is a prophet in Israel.
Namaan went to Elisha’s house and Elisha just sent a messenger saying, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” Namaan was angry because neither did Elisha came out to see him nor did he ask him to do anything spectacular except to go and wash himself in the Jordan seven times. The Jordan was not particularly a clean river and he knew that there were better rivers in Damascus. The servants eventually persuaded him to do what the prophet had asked him to do. The commander did it and his flesh was restored like a young boy. From Namaan’s experience of the divine hand comes the greatest of all conversion confession in the Old Testament: “Now I know there is no God in the world except in Israel.”
The little Israelite girl testified to Yahweh in a foreign land and brought about the healing of the commander of the army of Aram. Her genuine plight led her to testify about God and his healing power. God heals Namaan who in turn testifies to the living God that there is no other God except in Israel.
In the New Testament reading from the Gospel of Mark, we see how Jesus healed a man who was a patient of leprosy. Jesus however, touched him and healed him because of his compassion. Jesus too reveals God’s compassionate heart as he suffers with those who suffer and breathes healing into them.
The disciples too continued the work of healing which is recorded in the book of Acts. They too were moved with compassion and hence interceded for people to bring healing in their lives.
The church too is called to have compassion on these who are suffering and intercede for their healing. Just as Jesus suffered with those who suffered we too are called to identify with those who suffer and minister to them. We live in a place close to AIIMS and Safdarjung and very often we are confronted with people who are suffering and desperately need God’s healing touch.
How have we responded as a church? Do we have compassion for those who are sick and suffering and do we reach out to them? Or are we upset that the suffering are coming into our church and knocking our doors. May God fill us with his compassion and love that we too may identify with those who are suffering and bring healing into their lives.
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