Lenten Blog - Day 8
Thursday, March 1, 2012
“If you will, you can make me clean.” (v.40)
Sometimes I joke that the most frequent prayer request I’ve made throughout my life is, “please let me find parking.” Circling around the block downtown in frustration triggers intercession for some Red Sea action. There are other fleeting moments of nervous desperation as well: the hands on the foreheads during finals you wished you had more time for, the heart-pounding minutes before you ask her out, hoping that you won’t be late, and that your favorite team or reality TV contestant wins. We know it’s trite and feel that it’s not really worthy of God’s attention, but even wispy desperation can cause us to call upon the heavens.
Then there are moments more grave where desperation rumbles with the earth. A broken marriage, a lost son, a terminal diagnosis, a family with nothing to eat, a crazed gunman, a tsunami approaching your village, the vengeance of a despot. During this desperation, where we have nothing left, how do we approach God?
Maybe like a man with leprosy. A man three times desperate: Coming. Imploring. Kneeling. The request is an affirmation of to whom it is made—a determination, not of capability, but of willingness. A man is moved with pity, reaches out and touches a man with leprosy. In every way this is a cultural taboo—defilement is viral and lepers are the most contagious. Yet, the desperation of a defiled man meets the pity of a clean man. And the will of the clean meets the prayer of a defiled man. Here, clean wins.
Many of us vocalize our imperfections and need for some sort of healing. Some of us don’t like that word because we’re afraid it’s touchy-feely. But I wonder if somewhere between trivial desperation and grave desperation, there is a desperation for healing that both extremes point to but which we’re afraid to admit? Defilement and disease is a stark canvas where we might examine our own contortions and shattered selves. We are only circumstantially desperate for what Jesus’ can with our lives. The master healer is willing to heal and cleanse us. If only we were more willing.