When life is going relatively well, it’s easy for us to go on with our busy lives; hardly noticing that someone else may not have it so good.
What do you do when the bottom suddenly drops out from under YOU? What do you do when YOUR world suddenly stops; but, the world doesn’t stop for you? It continues on and on in oblivion…
Friends, I have some good news for you. Even when it seems like nobody else cares about you or you’re feeling alone and hopeless, Jesus Christ stops; and He has His attention directly on you. He knows what you’re going through because He went through it.
And He has a question: “What do you want me to do for you?”
The indignant prayer request:
There are several accounts in the Bible of Jesus performing miracles such as healing sick bodies.
In Matthew chapter 20 (and other accounts), Jesus is on a mission; on His way to the cross. He knows what’s up ahead. He is about to face a humiliating and painful death. He is about to take on the sins of the whole world so that the whole world would have opportunity to have everlasting life. Jesus gets serious with his followers and for the third time, in detail, tells them that He is going to be crucified. He tells them this ahead of time so they can know (and we can know) that when it comes to pass, He is the real deal.
17 “Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, 18 ‘Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, 19 and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.’” ~ Matthew 20:17-19 NKJV
Yet the followers seem oblivious to Christ’s words. Luke’s version of this story says in chapter 18 verse 34 that they
34 “understood none of these things;” ~ Luke 18:34a NKJV
In other words, they were like “oh yeah, about that…whatever…I’m sure you can handle.”
They were not thoughtful towards Jesus at all. In fact, Matthew and Mark’s account indicate that Jesus is presented with a bold but insensitive request from two of His followers, James and John. They even ask Him, in Mark 10:35, to say “Yes to their request” before they tell Him what the request was!
35 “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying, ‘Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask.’” ~ Mark 10:35 NJKV
But Jesus is not gullible. He asks them in the next verse:
36 “And He said to them, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’”
Basically, their seemingly indignant and selfish request, supposing that Christ would set up his Kingdom right away, is that they would be able to share in the spotlight. In other words, they were not at all concerned with what Jesus had just shared with them, in confidence, about His impending death at the cross. What they were concerned about was their immediate happenings, about “Me, Myself and I” and “what we can get now”. They wanted to know if they could share in the spotlight; so much so, that they put their mother, who’s name is Salome, up to the task of asking Jesus for the favor.
Matthew’s account in chapter 20 verse 20 says:
20 “Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.” ~ Matthew 20:20 NKJV
Salome is recorded as one of the women who followed Jesus closely during His public ministry. It is possible that Salome may be his aunt. So, it is no wonder that James and John send their mother up to Jesus to make this request. How could he deny her request?!?! Jesus, however, would deny this request because it was not an appropriate one according to God’s will. Jesus says in the first part of Matthew 20 verse 22:
22 “But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you ask…’” ~ Matthew 20:22 NKJV
And at the end of verse 23:
“‘..but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.’” ~ Matthew 20:23b NKJV
Notice the reaction of the other followers of Christ in verse 24:
24 “And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers.” ~ Matthew 20:24 NKJV
Perhaps they were jealous – because they really wanted the same thing but James and John got to it first! But Jesus tells them that if they want to be truly great, they must be servant of all.
Perhaps you can sympathize with Jesus – you’re going through some kind of trial or suffering or you know what’s up ahead for you – pain, discomfort, agony and tears. Maybe you’re going through a tough time in your relationship. Marriage is on the rocks. Maybe it is relatives – you don’t get along with family members. Perhaps, the doctor has given you bad news for your health and you know what that entails. It may be a matter of life and death as was the case with Jesus when He was on His way to the cross.
But you have to wait – the doctor doesn’t tend to you right away. You want them to fix it, TODAY. RIGHT NOW. Instead, you have to wait in line. There is no sense of urgency. Perhaps it seems like the world is just passing you by in oblivion just as Jesus’ followers were to His situation. People may see your outward expression trying to be strong but they don’t see that on the inside, you’re crying: “DON’T THEY CARE??? WHY DON’T THEY STOP??? DON’T THEY REALIZE THAT I’M IN PAIN???”
Sadly, not all of the time. Now, you see most of the world for what it really is. You see that the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart: That mankind is basically out for himself. As long as life is going relatively well for them, they don’t share in your pain. There may be a few here and there offering their support and thoughts towards you but you know, that you know, that they don’t really share in your pain and suffering. Only one who has gone through what you’re experiencing can really say that they know and can share in your pain.
The humble prayer request:
After Jesus’ exchange with Salome, James and John, He and His followers went to a place called Jericho; continuing on with His mission. By now there is a great following and they came across a couple of blind men. When the blind men were told that Jesus was going to pass by, they screamed at the top of their voice in desperation for help, saying:
“‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’” ~ Matthew 20:30 NKJV
But the men were told to be quiet and the blind men shouted even louder to get the Lord’s attention:
“‘Have mercy on us, O Lord, Son of David!’” ~ Matthew 20:31 NKJV
Here, these blind men recognize something about Jesus – that He is Lord. And they humbly but desperately ask Him to have mercy upon them. But how would Jesus be able to hear them in the midst of the crowd and followers clinging on to Him? And how would He be able to pick them out as He was focused on His mission: going to the cross to die?
Take note of the first part of verse 32:
32 “So Jesus stood still…” ~ Matthew 20:32: NKJV
Jesus stopped. He literally stopped in the middle of where He was headed, in the middle of all the noise and chaos to give attention to these men. Do you know that in all the chaos that is going on in in your world that Jesus still stops to hear you? To hear your cry? He does and then He has a question for YOU:
32 “So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, ‘What do you want Me to do for you?’” ~ Matthew 20:32 NKJV
This is the second time that Jesus asks “What do you want Me to do for you?”. And their request? For physical healing: Their eyes.
33 “They said to Him, ‘Lord, that our eyes may be opened.’” ~ Matthew 20:33 NKJV
The first time Jesus answers the request with “No” because the request is wrong. But this time, Jesus is going to say “Go” because He has compassion for suffering people:
34 “So Jesus had compassion and touched their eyes. And immediately their eyes received sight…” ~ Matthew 20:34 NKJV
How about You?
Perhaps Jesus is asking you today: “What do you want me to do for you?”
You want Him to bring a reconciliation between you and your estranged relative. Or perhaps, you’re looking so desperately for a healing touch for your broken body. Amen! Go ahead and ask!!!
Wherever you are, you may say: Lord, my body is sick. I have been told that I have a disease. Lord, I’ve had this pain in my body for a long time now and no one knows how to fix it. I’ve been to specialist after specialist and they can’t figure it out. Lord, I feel alone in my situation. My husband or wife is threatening to leave me or has left me. It’s SCARY.
Lord, I want to cry because the world keeps going on and on and on. Don’t they realize what I’m going through? Lord, why doesn’t anyone in the world stop and help me??? Why don’t they stop and tend to my situation? Don’t they realize that I’m in danger? That I’m suffering?
Remember, that God is not aloof towards your situation. He is not oblivious towards you like the followers of Jesus were towards Him. He is well aware and has His eyes on you and your situation. He is sovereignly in charge!
A lot of people say, “God wouldn’t give you more than you can handle”.
Ask yourself this: Is that 100% true?
If He didn’t allow trials and difficulties to happen in your life, you would be able to handle everything, right? Everything would be going relatively well and you would probably be one of those people passing up someone else who is suffering – in total oblivion, much like Jesus’ followers. Sometimes, these hardships come in our lives, in order to draw us near to Him. And He wants you and I to draw near to Him because He wants to have a relationship with us. Other times, He wants us to be able to relate to others who are suffering. To have compassion and come alongside others and just be a friend who understands and give a message of hope and love that is found in Christ.
We live in a fallen world as recorded in Genesis chapter 3 and as a result, sin in general abounds. Sin is the primary law at hand. Sin affects us – our minds, our lives, our bodies and our relationship with God, in a bad way. Physical death is a result of sin and it is the end for all of us. But mental, emotional and most importantly, spiritual death doesn’t have to be the final end. In His sovereignty, God is still able to use these things that affect us, like sickness and disease, to your benefit and to His glory.
I have been hard-of-hearing since birth. I was diagnosed with Focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (minimal changes disease) – a kidney disease, thyroid disease and leukopenia (low white blood cell count) all within a span of two-three years (2003-2005). Prior to the diagnosis, I suffered a lot of pain – I think more mentally and emotionally than physically. I lost double-digit pounds in less than two weeks without even dieting or exercising. I had several nights with my head in the the toilet as I had violent vomiting sessions on multiple occasions. I even busted a vein in my eye, which became bloody red as a result. I had many, many sleepless nights. I couldn’t tolerate food – almost every time I ate, I had a bad reaction. I became depressed.
In trying to figure out what was going on with me, I saw Dr. after Dr. to no avail. I was having pain in my lower back area and blurted out that I had been told that I should get my kidneys checked. I was just out of high school and I was scared because I didn’t want to have a biopsy done. Who wants to know that they are very sick, right? I met with a nephrologist and they scheduled two kidney biopsies which confirmed that I had kidney disease and as a result, I had to change my diet and lifestyle drastically. At the same time, the doctors could not figure out why the other stuff was happening – but they knew this: It was not related to the kidneys. They did notice that something was not right with my blood count and suggested that I needed to have a bone-marrow biopsy to test for cancer. Which I did in trembling fear. Finally, one doctor wondered if I was having thyroid issues – a disease typically associated with women and…cats!?!?
So, a test was done to find out what my thyroid levels were like and they called me in. They told me I had hyperthyroidism – basically, an overactive thyroid. So, they prescribed me medication to bring down the thyroid activity but then I became hypothyroid – the opposite, underactive thyroid. So, they presented me with two options. Either way, a part of me had to be taken away. Either remove the thyroid or take a radioactive pill that would kill off my thyroid function. A decision was made to cut off my thyroid function with the radioactive iodine treatment. I had to be isolated from everybody for a few days. Because the pill I took was so powerful, it could end up affecting them as well. If that didn’t work, I would have to go under the knife.
Today I take medicine supplements for my thyroid, kidneys and I still suffer from the effects leukopenia, an arthritic back and now I have another specialist that I see on a regular basis: a hematologist (a physician who specializes in the study of blood) to make sure that cancer is not developing in my body due to the blood disease.
Hope for the future:
While going through all of this, I saw nothing but hopelessness for my future while sitting next to cancer patients waiting to see my endocrinologist (specially trained physicians who diagnose diseases related to the glands). But then, I learned that God’s power shined the brightest in my darkest moments. I may have been weak but He was strong. He walked with me as I felt like I was literally going through my valley of death.
God desires that you draw near to Him because He loves you and wants to commune with you. He wants you to know about His future plans for you; that He has a place for you in Heaven if you so desire to be there. He also has plans for you while on earth as well – even in your pain. You can be a light to others who are suffering. You can give hope of life during life and life beyond the grave through the message of Christ. But we must seek and follow Him with everything we have.
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11-13 NKJV
A man named Paul once asked God to take away what was described as “a thorn in his flesh”. He pleaded with God so desperately, several times. But God answered:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9a NKJV
In other words, God’s grace, His undeserving favor towards us, is enough to get us through when we can’t make it. That is when you and I may see God’s power shine the brightest – in our darkest moments.
So, Paul concluded:
“Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9b NKJV
Jesus stopped in order to turn His attention towards your future destination by going to the cross and dying upon it.
In turn, in a heart of gratitude, we should ask Jesus: “What do you want me to do for You?”
Jesus would want you to follow Him; because where He is at, is life everlasting with no more pain and suffering. The end of verse 34 of Matthew 20 says that the men who received their sight followed Jesus:
“…and they followed Him…” ~ Matthew 20:34 NKJV
Devotional contributor: Samuel Chavez