I fell from a ladder last week.
I lost my balance and tumbled backwards screaming all the way to the ground. At which point I was in so much pain that I cried like an infant and felt as if I’d get sick. Because the fall wasn’t all that happened. I was heading up to the attic with a wooden crate full of Christmas lights. That full crate crashed into my knee when I landed.
I was sure I would die . Or at least throw up. I squirmed and cried and hoped none of the neighbors would call the police after my shrill and bloody murder scream.
But no one heard me. No one knew I’d fallen. It was just me and Jesus on the floor and no one to witness the horror. The most disappointing part was that all that was left to show for it was a single, barely bloody, gash on my knee. No swelling. No hemorrhaging. No broken or exposed bones. Just an internal pain like I couldn’t believe.
So when I told my story I had no witnesses and not much residual evidence, which doesn’t make for a lot of sympathy. There was merely a rolling of the eyes, some snickering and a comment of, “Oh, that’s so YOU!” But to be fair, how would anyone know how much pain I was in without any physical proof?
Which left me to grin and bear it alone. And it STILL hurts! But there is still absolutely no swelling or discoloring whatsoever. Bummer.
Of course you know where I’m going with this. People. All around us. Every day. They’re walking around wounded but since we can’t see it, it’s easy to ignore. They might have a huge invisible hole in the middle of their chest, but all we can see is a crabby disposition or withdrawal. They might be crushed by the weight of something so heavy that they feel their hearts will give out at any time. But all we can see is their silence or cold response. They might be feeling the sting of deep disappointment or hurt or shame but are suffering mutely because the thought of sharing it out loud seems overwhelming.
What if we could see inside those hearts? What if we looked past the seemingly insignificant “scrapes” showing on the outside and realized there is something much more profound going on on the inside? What if we listened a little more closely and asked a few more questions? What if we cared enough to understand that pain and not brush it off because we can’t “see” it? What if we learned to detect “internal bleeding”?
Hurting people can be difficult. High maintenance. Time consuming. Exhausting. But maybe we could be a salve that would help their healing along. If we could get past the inconvenience of it and recognize it for what it really is – pain – maybe we could help that person know that they are not alone. Maybe we could help convince them that healing is a definite possibility for them.
Jesus told a similar story:
Luke 10:25-37 –
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
It requires availability, compassion and open eyes. Watching for the hurting, even and especially when those wounds are less than visible. Listening well. Watching closely. Allowing our hearts to experience the pain of another.
Jesus wouldn’t ask us to do anything that He wouldn’t do Himself:
Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.
He saw our brokenness even before we did. Which is why He came, identifying with that brokenness by becoming one of us and eventually giving His all, His life, to heal us.
Maybe today someone’s healing can start with our kind word, our interested question or even our simple smile. A well-timed hug, an anonymous gift, or a surprise visit. Our healing becomes so much easier when we know we’re not alone…
P.S. My knee still really hurts. Really!