The Most Frightening Good News

Lepers.

They’re all over the gospels.

The choices Jesus made fascinate me because He’s the ultimate communicator. He told stories with His stories but also with His choices.

So, why all the lepers?

Jesus healed many people but the Holy Spirit inspired the gospel writers to focus on the lame, the blind, and the lepers.

We’ve learned much about leprosy since Biblical times and some of what is referred to in the Bible as leprosy was likely other skin diseases but leprosy causes a deadening of the nerves. In many patients, this results in a loss of feeling – including pain. Which you would think would be a plus but pain is part of our design. It’s a handy warning system when we touch something hot. Without the warning of pain, we might leave our hands on a burner incurring permanent damage without realizing it. Leprosy isn’t a desired condition and in Jesus’ day, lepers were often quarantined for fear of contagion.

In effect, though, by healing a leper, Jesus was reawakening them to a world of pain.

Think about that. Healing for lepers meant saying yes to experiencing pain once again. Most of us have thought it would be wonderful to live in a world without pain but too often, numbing ourselves to pain means losing our ability to sense any feeling. And pain can be useful as a protective factor, as a deterrent to destructive behavior, and as a warning system.

Much of the modern world is choosing a form of spiritual leprosy. We’ve become so resistant to pain and discomfort that we do anything to numb ourselves. We use work, entertainment, medication, relationships, and vices of every sort to avoid pain.

Then, we encounter Jesus. We seek healing. He offers it. But then, we learn the deal. To be healed means to reawaken to a world of pain. Loving the lost. Engaging in Christian community. Allowing change into our ordered world. Taking risks. Trusting God in the dark. Pain. Pain. Pain.

So, we have a choice. Refuse healing. Turn from relationship with Jesus and return to our orderly, entertained, medicated, pain-free lives. Or receive healing. Choose to get to know Jesus. But then, follow Him into all the messiness that ministering to a dark, numb world has to offer and open ourselves up to pain.

There will also be joy – lasting joy, not fleeting happiness. There will also be a host of other pleasurable experiences because awakening to Jesus means fullness of life – the full range of feelings. To love deeply is incredible but it makes us vulnerable to  pain. That’s the Jesus deal. He loved us and that love led Him to the cross but also to resurrection.

It’s harder to write about the usefulness of pain when you’re in it but it does help to keep the conversation real. There’s nothing romantic about pain but there is purpose in it when Jesus is involved.

What about you? Are you ready to be healed?


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3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Thanks, Lori, for this excellent post on a rather unpopular topic–but a needful one. We both deal wt severe chronic pain, and know first-hand the reality of which you write. I especially appreciate the concept that Jesus’ healing of a leper means pain!
    If you’re interested in one of the best books written on this topic, you might want to check out PAIN: The Gift Nobody Wants, by Brand & Yancey. Also, Glorious Intruder, by Joni Eareckson Toda. Keep on “keeping on” my friend!

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Thank you for this dose of reality, Lori.
    But most of all I loved seeing the photos of you and Alton Gansky in juxtaposition.

  3. Margie Hoffman Johnson says:

    I loved this- I have been pondering lately about how choosing love actually means choosing pain- choosing Christ does make you ache for those who don’t / won’t . Love the leprosy analogy .