Glistening with the touch of newly risen tears, his clear blue eyes held mine. His wife smiled, mouthing, “you see it, too”. Horribly disfigured by the cancer resident there, his face shrouded his true being. Yes, I saw it, too; or rather I saw him. Only someone remarkably seen by love has eyes which truly “see” others.
Apologetically gesturing toward his face, he commented he no longer was the man she married. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the tears fill her eyes. Holding his gaze, the bold words, “Yes you are, the man she married was always the man inside, and he’s still there, maybe even better.” slid from my mouth.
“Remember, though the outward man perish, the inward man is renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16) followed suit.
Tears flowing down all faces, while tissues passed around, we comforted one another in our mutual faith. Sadly he betrayed more people found repulsion in his face than actually “saw him”. Reminded daily his disfigurement marred only his flesh by his wife, it took the words of a complete stranger to open the eyes of his heart.
In our lowest moments, knowing we are remarkably seen by Love, transforms despair into hope.
love sees beyond appearance
Sharing about the healing touch of love last week, led me in pondering the desperate need we all have, in knowing we are “seen”. Truly seen, which probes far deeper than mere appearance. The dear man in the clinic felt certain, others only saw his disfigurement, but his true being beckoned from within the prison walls of his infirmity.
The ability of seeing others beyond appearance stems from a love other worldly. Once remarkably seen by Christ’s love, our crippled sight sees in a new supernatural light. For the love of Christ sees to the very depths, and loves anyway.
A Love which sees beyond appearance seeks connection and communion; to know and be known.
the heartbreak of the unseen
In one way or another we all experience membership in the ranks of the unseen. Whether people choose seeing only our shortcomings, or define us by our disability or illness, we feel hopelessly invisible.
Mark 5:25-34 tells the story of one such woman desperate for healing, but perhaps even more desperate for a love which saw beyond her infirmity.
“And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. “ (Mark 5:25-26)
Revealing the depth of suffering in the first two verses, Mark introduces us to an unnamed woman. Apparently unknown by anyone there on that day, we do know like the leper Jesus encountered, she was an outcast of society.
Considered “unclean” by the culture of the day, (Leviticus 15:19-23) women with menstruation or bleeding post childbirth must remain in “separation”. Anyone touching them, their clothing or bedclothes became “unclean”.
Having an issue of blood for twelve years forced this woman into a life of separation and perceived uncleaness. No human embrace, no gathering with family or friends and human contact only from a distance.
Both the infirmity and the isolation fueled her search for a cure doubling her anguish by inflicting more physical suffering and depleting her financial resources.
more than a touch
“She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.’ And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. “ (Mark 5:27-29)
Exhausting every option for a normal life, she hears of Jesus, and her faith compels her to seek him. But knowing her position as an unclean outcast, she crawls on the ground in a crowd hoping for just one touch of his garment.
Perhaps twelve years of forced anonymity and unclean isolation kept her from approaching Jesus directly or perhaps she feared denial of her deepest need.
She immediately receives the physical healing she sought for twelve long years in Jesus, yet her story is not over with this miracle.
Jesus stops, knowing someone touched him and power left him. Questioning his disciples with the desire of seeing who touched him. The crowds following him prevented anyone from seeing who touched him, yet he persisted in knowing.
“And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth.” (Mark 5:32-33)
The woman comes to Jesus with fear and trembling revealing what she did moments before. Why with fear? Because while her physical body received healing, her identity as unclean and unseen defined by her infirmity still imprisoned her.
In Jesus’ insistence on seeing her, he intimates a deeper need yet unhealed.
“And he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:34)
In a brief moment, this woman, remarkably seen by Love received healing for her deepest need. In one word Jesus transforms her identity as unclean and unseen to “Daughter”, beloved and known.
remarkably seen by love
While Jesus spoke and taught great crowds, he healed one by one. He knew the depth of human pain tunneled deeper than physical infirmities. Knowing each request for physical healing came also with an unspoken request for an intimate love which saw, knew and accepted, Jesus both touched and saw.
Though he received no healing for his physical infirmity, remaining imprisoned in a body of suffering, the man in clinic received the balm of the seen. He no longer felt defined by his physical appearance, but known and valued.
May we choose seeing past appearance, failure and the busyness of each day, and rather plumb the depths of human despair with Jesus. May we see with the eyes of the remarkable Love of Christ.
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