Monday, March 05, 2007

The God of Lepers

As we entered the leprosy village yesterday, the children ran out to meet us, grabbed my hands and led us toward the church. We stepped through the gate. They'd laid down a carpet from the gate to the doors of the church. All the leprosy patients and their wives and children lined up and, laughing, tossed flower petals onto our heads as we entered.

When it was my turn to speak I shared the story of meeting a man from Iran a few weeks ago on an airplane. He had asked me all sorts of challenging questions about Christianity. In the course of our conversation I told him that Jesus offers us full and complete joy (check out John 15:11). Well, then my new friend asked how I could struggle with depression if I'm a follower of Jesus and he offers such joy.

I didn't know what to say. I wasn't sure I knew the answer. Then, a verse popped into my mind. I said, "In Luke it says that Jesus was a man of sorrows. Why do you think the Bible would describe him like that?"

And my new friend thought for a moment and then he nodded. "Because he saw the world as it really is," he replied. Then after another moment he said, "Jesus was a man of sorrows. That's the best answer you've given me all night."

As I shared that with the lepers, they nodded. They could identify with the sorrows of this world, but also with the powerful hope of Jesus.

For me, yesterday was a day of sorrows and joy; a mixture of laughter and tears. Worshiping Jesus with the lepers, lifting my hands in praise with them, laughing and hugging them, praying with them was an overwhelmingly powerful experience. The same Jesus who reached out to the lepers of his day is still doing so today.

And he's reaching out to me, through them.

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