A friend sits across from me - shoulders slumped, face down - and recalls recent events that have filled this dear heart with overwhelming sadness and despair. Words fell from down-turned lips as the emotions rolled off the body like waves. Forgotten. Worthless. Anger. A look up toward the sky as expressions of "Why God?" are shouted.
A beautiful human soul left in the dust.
We all know the story of the Good Samaritan - it is a story that is taught to us from an early age. Even those who have not been raised in the church seem to know this story. It offers a wonderful allegory on how to (and, how not to) care for someone who has been injured on their journey. But, do we understand this parable? Do you take to heart the mandate set forth? And, do we apply it to our lives in a meaningful way?
A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. (Luke 10:30)
If you see someone who has been wounded - physically, emotionally, legally, spiritually - stop and give aid. Honestly, it is just that simple. A wound is not always something that can be seen and as neighbors we are to be vigilant in watching for the well-being of those around us. Pay attention! Keep your eyes peeled! Who is God putting in your path today?
NOT MY PROBLEM
By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. (Luke 10:31-32)
Seeing someone who has been wounded can be a scary thing! We tend to assume the worst about these two men used as examples of what not to do but in all reality - we shouldn't judge. Now, it looks bad. It looks like these two are just not willing to care for their neighbor and, in reality, that is probably a fair assessment. They most likely thought in their mind, "Not my problem!" We should also entertain the notion that their actions were driven by fear. It is noteworthy to mention that helping someone who has been wounded is not only a caring act but it is a brave act.
What if the wounded person was a robber? What if they were already dead? We know for sure that the man lying in the path was at this point quite physically and spiritually unclean so what then? Goodness! Who has time for this? It's simply NOT MY PROBLEM! I cannot get involved!
LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR
Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ (Luke 10:34-35)
Noticing the wounded man, the Samaritan stopped assessed the needs and took action. Notice that the Samaritan did not tell the man to get up and help himself. He did not demand that he find something to cover himself with because he did not want to see his nakedness. He did not yell for someone else to take care of him. No, he spared no cost, sprung to action, and took this man who had been wounded so deeply. He allowed himself to become the very hands of God. Through his action, the displayed the heart of God.
THE CALL TO ACTION
Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked. The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.” Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Jesus ends this parable with a mandate - now that you know better, do better. As I looked across at my downtrodden friend, I thought to myself, "How can I do better for this wounded soul?" Sometimes the wound is so overwhelming to both the victim and the on-looker that a pause has to take place. A pause is not a problem! The pause shows that we are taking the wounded's pain seriously and we are seeking a careful answer. That answer can look vastly different depending on the role God's needs you to take on in this person's healing.
The answer may be to lend a listening, non-judgmental ear. The answer may be to physically meet a need. It may be that you commit to serious prayer for and with the person God placed in your life.
The answer is NEVER to cross the road and keep walking. This is not fulfilling the mandate to leap into action.
You may feel that you have far too little to actually make a difference. Let me tell you that there is no such thing as "far too little" when it comes to healing. In fact, there are times when those with "far too little" offer the most impact! A kind word, time spent, investing a little money, or even helping to find someone who can meet bigger needs - these are all actions that can go a long way toward the healing of a wounded heart.
When all else fails and you just do not know what to do, sit with the friend, ask what they need - if they don't know then continue to sit and be patient until one of you comes to the understanding of what to do. We live in such a fast-paced world. Healing takes time. Hold space for that healing so that when it comes you have room to accept it in. This goes for both the wounded and the one who is desiring to help.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for helping others to find their healing. The past few years have been a test in trusting the Creator for provisions and living in complete and total worship to my King. As I find myself coming through the other side of the valley, I am learning to live with both wings moving; flying balanced and fully committed to the process of living a life of faith and trust.