Blind Bartimaeus Sees Mercy

Beth Demme Blog 2 Comments

Have you ever had an experience where you felt like God opened your eyes and allowed you (or made you!) see something in a new way?

I’ve taken a handful of mission trips to Nicaragua. On one of my first trips, I got to walk in the jungle and hand out bags of grocery essentials. I’m not normally a fan of the kind of evangelism that says “Here I Come and I’m Bringing Jesus,” but I have to admit that was my mindset that day.

In my own (unintentionally) egotistical way, I was bringing groceries and Jesus. I was bringing hope into a hopeless situation.

Except when I got there, I found that Jesus had arrived long before me. Hope was alive and well in the jungle.

I met a woman who was 99 years old. She was sitting outside her home, in the shade of the trees. Her home was pieced together from logs, tarps, and scrap metal. She didn’t have luxuries like running water or electricity. To my eyes, she didn’t just live a humble existence, she was barely living a human existence.

I strolled up that day with my friends to bring her a bag of groceries and a healthy dose of the love of Jesus. As we arrived, what was she doing? She was peacefully reading Psalmos (Psalms) from a well-worn Bible.

As I talked with this woman, I had an eye-opening experience. I was blind, but then I saw!

She shared stories of a life of deep faith. She talked about miraculous healings and the serenity of knowing God’s loving presence.

I left the groceries with her, but took with me a profound sense that I had been standing on holy ground.

Until God opened my eyes and showed me, I couldn’t see that God was at work in a lifestyle that looked very different from my own. I was blind.

This woman was, for me, something like a Bartimaeus figure.

As Jesus was leaving Jericho, he heard a blind man named Bartimaeus calling out to him (Mark 10:46-52). The Gospel of Mark says Bartimaeus called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47). The crowd tried to shush Bartimaeus, but he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:48).

Bartimaeus was as unimportant a character as you can imagine. He had nothing, not even his sight. But in his blindness, Bartimaeus enthusiastically declared something that others around him couldn’t see.

Bartimaeus declared that Jesus could bring mercy, and therefore healing.

My experience in Nicaragua reminds me that this still happens today. Those who society says are unimportant, the least of the least, are out there faithfully declaring that they know something about God’s mercy. The question is, am I listening?

Where have you heard God’s mercy declared in an unexpected way? Tell me about it in the comments, in an email, or on Facebook.

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