In 2021 the world is under the weight of an epidemic that is far more wide-spread than COVID-19. Considering all that is happening, there is an epidemic of anxiety and depression caused by fear, sickness, death, financial crisis, loneliness, conflict, hate, confusion, division and so much more that causes people to lose heart.
This all leads to trauma, and an outbreak of anxiety and depression on the inside of us. In a recent study, it was found that one in ten people suffer from depression. Truth is, we could all use a little cheering up, couldn’t we?
I am not talking about a temporary laugh or comedy show that only gives fleeting relief. Rather I want us to focus on real hope, hope that leads to joy found in Jesus Christ.
Maybe some of you already walk in this freedom and peace. Maybe some of you believed it at some time in your life, but circumstances have caused you doubt. Maybe some of you don’t really know who Jesus really is and what he is offering.
In chapter 10 of Mark’s Gospel, we read about a man who found hope and joy in Jesus Christ. The man was Bartimaeus and he was a blind beggar outside of Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, Bartimaeus cried out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
He heard “Jesus of Nazareth” was close by, and when he senses Jesus is within hearing distance, he begins to call out to him.
The blind man knew Jesus was special and would have the ability to do something for him that would change his circumstances. The people around him didn’t like what the blind man was doing and told him to be quiet.
We don’t know why they told him to be quiet. I am sure the blind beggar felt like his chances of getting Jesus’ attention were close to zero. But he keeps on shouting in desperation, calling out the name of Jesus.
What happens next surprises the crowd. Jesus stops and ask his disciples to bring the blind man to him. In verse 49 we read this: “And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.” And they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take heart. Get up; he is calling you.” The NIV translation says, “cheer up…he is calling you”
Have you ever been in a situation where you were desperate, and you didn’t think anyone was ever going to come to your rescue? Who knows how many years Bartimaeus sat along the side of the road, hoping someone would pay attention to him? What would you do? Bartimaeus doesn’t hesitate but jumps up and comes to Jesus. Mark 10:50
Then Jesus asks him this question: “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51a
Why would Jesus ask him this question? The man’s need is obvious. As in many other instances, Jesus wants Bartimaeus to actually say it aloud as a demonstration of his faith. This is a key for us; when we pray for something, we need to be specific – “what do you want” – pray with faith in the all-powerful God.
Bartimaeus believes in his heart that Jesus can pull it off, so he asks in faith, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” Mark 10:51b. The blind man wants his greatest desire to be met. After all the years of blindness, could he be healed?
Jesus said: “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way.” Mark 10:52
The man was not only healed from his physical blindness but from his spiritual blindness as well. Immediately after receiving his sight, he begins to follow Jesus and witnesses the triumphal entrance into Jerusalem in Mark 11 and the crucifixion and resurrection a week later.
His first move with his 20/20 vision? He followed Jesus along the road. He had only been healed for a week and yet he got to see the greatest event in all human history.
As we look at the practical application of this text, there is something in light of Mark’s Gospel that we need to keep in mind. Jesus doesn’t give us everything we ask for. In the previous chapter we see Jesus denying the disciples request to be seated at his side in his kingdom (Mark 10:36).
Jesus didn’t grant them this request because he knew they didn’t understand (see James 4:3).
Thank God Jesus doesn’t answer all our prayers with our exact request. The world would be in chaos. But not only that, we would miss out on so much growth and maturity in our Christian walk.
I am also sure there were other beggars on the road who didn’t get healed that day. Maybe they didn’t cry out like Bartimaeus did, maybe they did. Jesus always answers our prayers, but not always exactly like we ask because he has a bigger plan in mind. The purpose of Jesus is always to give glory to God the father.
Jesus may remove your circumstance that is causing your pain, or he may give you the strength to see you through your circumstances. But Jesus will never leave you alone in your pain.
Jesus always says “yes” to our spiritual healing, and sometimes he does it through our physical sufferings.
In 2 Samuel 24, we read the account of how God brought about a deadly plague, to bring the nation back to holiness.
Blindness, poverty, injustice, and illness are very painful things, but they are temporal conditions. Our biggest need is to overcome death and enter into an eternal relationship with God where these things can never harm us again. Our Heavenly Father is always more concerned for your eternal destination than He is about your temporal comfort.
What is the burden of your heart?
Are you willing to call out to him – “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”?
Be prepared. When you get to him, he is going to ask you this question: “What do you want me to do for you?”
Bring your burden to the Lord and believe that he has the power to set you free.
Wherever you are, right now pray that prayer.