Moses said, “Please show me your glory.” Exodus 33:18
Our hearts hunger for glory. We want God to show up and prove that He’s who He says He is. We long to see the miracles recorded for us in scripture.
But we don’t want to have to participate. We’d rather sit back and watch God show up. At least, that’s what I discovered about myself.
I sat with my mother in the oncology wing at Exeter hospital while she rested during her chemo drips. I’d decided to use the quiet moments to catch up on some ministry work.
I never saw the woman enter the hospital. My position behind the curtain in our little cubicle blocked my view of the hallway, and my fingers clicking across the keyboard had stolen my attention from everything else. I hardly noticed the presence of another patient in the curtained room beside me.
Until I heard her.
A painful cry pierced the monotonous buzz of hospital activity. “Stop it, please! It hurts! It hurts!” Panicked wailing accompanied her cries.
My eyes lifted from the computer screen to my mother’s face. Her eyes fluttered open, and we looked at one another with increasing concern. The cries lingered on. We waited to hear sounds of relief, but her anguish only increased. “We need to pray for that poor woman,” Mom said. I nodded agreement and silently lifted her before my Father.
I heard her story unfold through broken, anguished sobs. She had come for a blood transfusion. I don’t know what illness plagued her, but I know her journey had been long. And hard. The continual treatments had caused her veins to collapse, and now even what helped her, hurt her. She was tired of the pain.
And she had lost hope. “I can’t do this any more.”
Something stirred in me to go to her, to put my hand on her and call upon the Great Physician to open her veins and ease her suffering. Almost simultaneously another thought overshadowed the urge to rise from my chair. She doesn’t want you to bother her. You’re a stranger. She doesn’t want to know that everyone is listening. Just pray where you are.
So I never got out of my chair.
I reasoned that she wouldn’t want me to pray. Her demeanor suggested she might kick me out of the room. Besides, I had ministry work to finish.
Shame rises in me as I type those words. Ministry.
Beloved, what is ministry without love?
Jesus came into this world to meet people in their suffering, to call a lost world that has forgotten their Father back to Him. He watches us striving to grab hold of life by any means. And He sees us fail, because life is only found in Him.
Yet people don’t know, because the deceiver has veiled God’s glory (2 Corinthians 4:4). They believe they’re alone in their suffering, that there is no hope because they’ve exhausted all their own resources. They don’t understand that hope lies in their Heavenly Father and has been poured out to them through His Son.
And they won’t know. Unless we tell them. Unless one who houses the Spirit of God within her rises when He calls to reveal Him. And offers love in the midst of hopelessness.
I can’t help thinking of Jesus’ parable of the good Samaritan. A man lay bleeding, beaten and robbed. A priest and a Levite both passed by on the other side of the road, perhaps even on their way to do “ministry.” They missed that love defines ministry.
I wonder if the priest and the Levite in Jesus’ story did what I had done. Perhaps they muttered a silent prayer, convincing themselves they had done their part. But they still left the man bleeding and half dead on the side of the road.
Yes, God hears every prayer, dear one, even the silent ones. But that suffering woman on the other side of the curtain that day never knew anyone cared. Her circumstances hadn’t changed. She felt as alone and hopeless as she did when she came in. And if God had touched her in response to my prayer, she never would have known He did it. Her gratitude would’ve gone to the nurse that finally found the right vein.
And she would’ve left still not knowing the God who wanted to save her.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8
Glory lurks in every dark place, beloved, waiting for exposure. God releases it when His people show themselves as His disciples.
We show ourselves when we love, dear one.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
God desired to move in that woman’s life. He wanted her to know the comfort only He can give. And He wanted me to show her.
Forgive me, Father. Thank you for your new mercy every day. Sift my heart, Lord, and make me faithful to respond to You alone. I ask again for Your healing touch upon that woman. You know her name. You know her need. Send a faithful one, that she might know and experience Your love through another. Please, Father. Don’t allow my shortcomings to rob her of Your blessings.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. 2 Timothy 2:13