The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. . . He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Psalm 103:8, 10–12
When I visited the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel some time ago, the Lord opened my eyes to see for the first time how He had met the man with leprosy we learned about in yesterday’s reading. After preaching to the multitudes, our Lord didn’t go down the mountain toward them. Our Lord had actually walked down the mountain in another direction, very likely in the direction toward Capernaum (see Matt. 8:5).
As I took a path down the mountain toward Capernaum that day, I saw slabs of stone strewn along the foot of the mountain. These stone slabs are just the right size for a man to crawl under and find shelter. Right then and there, I had the revelation of how the man with leprosy could have hidden under one of these slabs for fear of being discovered by the people, and how our Lord Jesus had known the man was hiding there and deliberately gone to seek him before the crowds caught up with Him.
In Jesus’ day, those with leprosy were ostracized and isolated in accordance with the law of Moses. Because they were conscious of how unclean they were and what the law required of them, their natural response was to withdraw and hide.
But hiding didn’t get the man with leprosy in Matthew 8 the healing and restoration he needed.
Fortunately, hearing about the goodness of God—how God wanted to be a loving Father to him and take care of all his needs—got him out of hiding and into seeking the Lord for his miracle.
It changed his mind from seeing a God Who ostracized and condemned unclean people to seeing a God Who loved them no matter what their condition. This change of mind lit his faith and put courage in his heart to seek and receive the healing he so desperately wanted.
Like the man with leprosy at the start of his story, could you also be hiding from God today? Maybe you’ve been struggling with an addiction or cycle of defeat that you can’t seem to get out of. Maybe you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse and you blame yourself for it. Maybe you’ve had a failed marriage or business, or made a bad decision that has led to loss. And maybe your failure has caused you to avoid God, avoid going to church, and avoid people in general. Beloved, whatever may be causing you to feel “unclean” or disqualified today, God wants you to change your mind about Him and, instead of hiding from Him, to run to Him!
Instead of hiding from God, I will run to God because He loves me no matter what my condition.
Father, thank You that You deliberately seek me out when I am hiding from You and from others because of my pain or condition. I acknowledge that in the past I have bought into many of the world’s wrong beliefs, distortions, and lies about You, and that I’ve run away from You rather than to You. Today, I choose to believe that You are gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy toward me. Help me to always see You as the God Who loves me no matter what my condition, so that I will always come boldly to You to receive mercy and grace for my every need. Amen.