Are you afraid of discomfort? Personally, I’d like to say “Pfffft nah, no way, I’ve been through my share of stuff I’ll have you know, I’m no stranger to discomfort.” But you watch me, and my actions will betray that answer. It’s true I’m no stranger to discomfort, and in truth, I think all of us have had more than our fair share of discomfort even with just these past few years. Though I find no matter how much I may have been through, my ability and willingness to bend over backwards to avoid even the smallest amount of discomfort never decreases. Unfortunately for sincere followers of Christ, discomfort is unavoidable, but fortunately for followers of Christ, it is made worthwhile.
Take today’s gospel for example; this man is brought to Jesus, and we just know he’s deaf and can’t really speak for himself (literally). We can’t really know how much he knew about what was going on, even less how much he was able to know about this Jesus guy.
Now it says this man is brought to Jesus, not that a deaf man approached Jesus, he was brought. So I think we can reasonably assume he’s with a few companions, who he has some degree of dependency on, especially in a crowd. Again though, can’t say what he himself knows about this Jesus guy he’s being brought to.
So what happens? The first thing Jesus does is take him aside, alone, just the two of them, away from these trusted companions. Already at this point, if I were him, I’d be treading into some discomfort.
Then what does Jesus do? He puts his fingers in this man’s ears, and touches his tongue with spittle (which is just spit, by the way). I don’t know about you, but at this point I’d officially be very uncomfortable.
This man however, is much better than I. How do I know? Because there isn’t a single word about him resisting, about him questioning, or drawing back. In a moment, he has lived out those exemplary words spoken by our Lady “let it be done unto me”.
His reward? He’s healed.
If you want to be healed, be made whole, and be made well, the process isn’t a comfortable one. In fact, I’d say from my experience it’s pretty on-par with what we’ve just seen.
First, we find ourselves exposed. Difficulty comes in life that we simply can’t handle on our own and exposes in us a weakness/brokenness that we’d rather keep hidden and maybe weren’t even aware of. Like this man’s companions bringing him out into the crowds, he can’t take care of himself well in that environment, it would’ve been much more comfortable to stay home.
Second, we stand before Jesus, just as we are. Eventually, by being worn down or by being humbled enough to realize we need help (for me usually both), we turn to the Saviour in all our brokenness. It’s intimate, personal, and quite uncomfortable, like Jesus pulling this man aside away from everyone to be with him as he is.
Third, we (ideally) allow Jesus to enter in, bringing us with Him right into the depths of our brokenness. This is very very uncomfortable. To see the fullness of how desperately we need Jesus’ help and give Him the freedom to work in these wounded places of our hearts can at times seem even more uncomfortable than having him put his fingers in our ears and put spit on our tongues.
Last is most important though, and the most beautiful. In my experience, once we accomplish this surrender of the heart, Jesus challenges our difficulty head-on. Now that you know fully how dependent you have to be on Him, He’ll ask you to do what you believed you never could.
If you were deaf, He’ll speak to you, and your job is just to listen. If you were paralyzed, He’ll tell you to get up and walk, and your job is just to put your weight on your feet and give it a go. If you haven’t talked to your father in years, He may tell you to call him, and your job will just be to pick up the phone and dial. If your heart can’t believe you’re worthy of love, He will cover you in His, and your job is just to receive it. After that, it’s a matter of trust, a leap of faith.
All of course easier said than done, usually, I get stuck at the third step a few times and just convince myself again that the problem is “that thing going on out there”, and not actually an issue with me and my own heart. Silly me.
Healing is uncomfortable, but always worth it.
Moral of the story, Jesus is absofruitely going to poke around in the uncomfortable places of your heart if you let Him, but it’s the only way you’ll be made whole, and be made well. So let Him in, “Ephphatha”, and be opened.
-Written by Domenic Thachuk, NET Alumni