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Sunday Message for 28 October 2018: “Restoration!”

Today’s message focuses on restoration, first of the Old Testament man Job (Job 42:1-6,10-17) and then the New Testament Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).

The Book of Job is a long tale about a legend—Job—who is one of the Bible’s textbook examples of personal tragedy and restoration. It all started when God and Satan discussed Job’s moral superiority. God bragged about Job and in response Satan struck a bet with God that Job would break under duress and fail to be the moral example that God had elevated him to be. With the scheme afoot, Satan departed and instigated evil against Job by striking him with a skin disease, arranging the murder of his children, and finally stripping Job of wealth by marauding bandits. And you think that you’ve had a bad day!

Job’s horrors were far from over. Job’s friends came to supposedly comfort their suffering companion. What happened was that their many words didn’t reassure Job and apparently God wasn’t happy with their advice either. Job’s friends had done wrong by giving apparently bad vibes to Job that only added to his suffering. Reflecting on his own shortcomings as well as his friends’, Job nonetheless prayed for his companions so that they would not be judged harshly by God the enforcer.

A big lesson from Job’s example is that in seeking compassion toward others, Job’s journey of redemption was supercharged. As preoccupied Job might have been with his own suffering, he showed compassion toward others. After much soul-searching, Job’s transition to a new life finally began. Job was assured that his long travail of suffering would now cease and be replaced by a restored life. Job’s fortunes began to turnaround soon after he prayed for those companions who had failed to comfort him earlier. There’s a lesson here, in that compassion can release God’s redemptive power. If someone has done you wrong, your faith obligates you to seek restoration for all those who may even be accomplices in your suffering. If there’s someone in your life who has wronged you (or you have done them wrong) then God’s Spirit is ready to help. The obligation of God followers is to seek reconciliation for ourselves and others, to not only be open to God’s corrective Spirit in our life but also to assist that same transformation in the life of other wrongdoers.

Now to the New Testament passage where we find blind Bartimaeus crying out to Jesus for healing. His cries were so blatant that the crowd chastised the blind beggar, essentially telling him to “Shut-up!” Jesus intervened and decided to help. When Bartimaeus heard Jesus’ response he sprang up and ran to the Savior. Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted, and with his faithful request for sight, Jesus healed him.

The example of Bartimaeus may seem like a run-of-the-mill healing. Thankfully, this is not an opportunity to become jaded or cynical. Bartimaeus’ example is instructive because it is insightful into how you may approach God. Initially, God encourages you to make your appeal known. Like Bartimaeus, you may need to cut through the noise of a crowd and make sure that your plea is heard. After sensing that God has heard your plea, you can extend your faith and connect with the Almighty physician who can heal in body, mind and spirit.

Out of the depths of despair you can cry to God for help as did Bartimaeus. Those around you may not be comfortable with the intensity of your plea but you persist because you want to be faithful and do your part. You then wait for the Lord to respond, and as your heart receives God’s presence you can leap with joy as redemption overcomes your struggle. Finally, you decide to persevere in goodness because you believe God and expect the Almighty’s healing power to sustain you.

The process of redemption sounds direct and simple but there are profound challenges on the road to recovery. Believing in God’s promises isn’t always easy because it can take extraordinary patience and perception. But what’s the alternative? To remain sick, complain and make it worse? Choose the better path and persevere. Follow-through with what God wants you to change and then the promise of a revitalized life will await you on the other side of your ordeal.

Another good lesson to realize is that both Job and Bartimaeus were active participants in their healing. Neither of these men expended much energy complaining or blaming (though Job did give-in to some of this at first). Instead, Bartimaeus and Job rallied themselves to persist even when those around them weren’t able or willing to help. Similarly, when you are in distress it’s good to guard against discouragement, including from people who want you to be silent or who add to your troubles by giving bad advice. Stay close to God and remain vigilant against discouragement.

Expect great things from God. Don’t allow anger, pessimism or complacency to limit your quest for redemption. People of faith are called to great joy, even during setbacks and suffering. The great promise is that you can be touched by God’s healing as you cultivate and act upon your faith. Energetically pursue what you need and don’t feel unworthy or too timid to reach out (even if others are trying to silence or embarrass you).

Do you have a situation that requires God’s intervention? Rather than expend energy concealing your needs let your request be known. Otherwise, people may excuse themselves from helping you because you didn’t ask. Even at the risk of being judged unfairly by spectators make your plea and receive healing as you petition God for restoration. As you are restored, people around you will witness God’s power and become inspired to seek their own redemption.

-–Reverend Hoxey