Thursday, March 7, 2013

Imagine No Malaria-Lenten Devotion Day 23: March 7


Thursday, March 7, 2013: Blaming the Ill 

Luke 8:47-48 “When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” 

When Franklin Delano Roosevelt was stricken by polio he was in the prime of his life. His star was rising. Shortly before this time he had been chosen at age 32 to serve as the Democrat’s Vice-Presidential candidate. The campaign was a losing effort but Roosevelt had made a name for himself and in the process he began laying a foundation for his own presidential campaign sometime in the future. People were talking about him as an “up and comer.” Then he was stricken with polio and his life changed for-ever. He would never again stand on his own. 

In our day, it is hard to imagine what a dreaded illness polio was. It was so feared that many people felt compelled to remove any family members who had polio from society entirely. They would hide them away in a back bedroom and close the blinds. Biographers say that Roosevelt’s mother encouraged him to do just this, to retire from public life and spend the rest of his years at their home along their family home on Hudson River. But his wife, Eleanor, refused to let him give up. She convinced him to put up a fight. Within ten years he was elected president of the United States and went on to lead his nation through the Great Depression and World War II. 

In Luke 8, we read about a woman who also refused to give up hope. Society taught that women in a situation like hers were to retire from society. They were to go off by themselves. They were not to touch anyone. They were not to be seen in public. But she refused to give up on life and she believed with all her heart that if she could just touch the robe of Jesus, she would be healed. Remember, according to the law, she was not even to be in public, much less intentionally touching people. So when Jesus called her out, she was terrified. But Jesus did not condemn her, he praised her and celebrated her faith. 

Even today, some blame illness on the people who are ill. There is a temptation to close our eyes and deny that illness even exists. Sickness reminds us that we are all vulnerable and blaming the victim is one way we assure ourselves that what happened to them will never happen to us. Jesus challenges us to move beyond our fears and to choose, instead, the way of compassion and love. 

Prayer: Help us, O God, to put aside our fears and care for those who go through difficult times. Our faith can give them strength in times of need and their courage can inspire us to greater faith still. Open our hearts, Lord Jesus, and fill us with compassion for those in need. 

Jen Manier, Minnesota and Rev. Clayton Childers, Virginia 

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