Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
For the past month I have been suffering with an outbreak of acne at age 51! It seems likely that this condition is a side effect of menopause. Treating the problem with topical solutions and covering the spots with makeup, these past four weeks have shed some light on the residual vanity that still remains in my nature. Yesterday when I addressed this with my Lord, and acknowledged that I still was self–conscious about the image of my face, and asked His help to both heal these blemishes and increase His grace of humility in me, He responded with two blessings. Today, it seems that the acne is subsiding! I give You all the praise and glory, my Lord, my Healer. Thank you! Secondly, Jesus reminded me of that time long ago when He had heard the cry of my teenage heart for His help and He had taken pity on me and healed me, but much like the ungrateful nine lepers who did not return to show their appreciation to the Lord for His mighty and merciful healing, I, like them, did not think to give God the glory nor thank the Lord Jesus at that time because I was far from Him, living for myself and not for God, and did not then have faith.
As He continued His journey to Jerusalem, He traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As He was entering a village, ten lepers met Him. They stood at a distance from Him and raised their voice, saying, “Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!” And when He saw them, He said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him. He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply, “Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”
I was about fifteen years old living at home with my parents and sisters in New Jersey. I had for a long time been embarrassed by a cluster of flat warts/plantar warts that had gradually grown on my adolescent face following some exposure to the virus, HPV. Finally, I asked my father, a doctor himself, if he could help me find a way to get rid of them. He made an appointment for me for a consultation with one of his doctor colleagues, a dermatologist practicing in town. My condition was diagnosed as Juvenile Flat Warts (Verruca Plana) and I was scheduled to have them removed the following morning in the doctor’s office. The dermatologist had explained that he would perform a common procedure called Cryotherapy. During this process, the affected area is “shock frozen” with liquid nitrogen, also known as dry ice. After the treatment, a blister will form and healthy skin should appear after about one week. While flat warts are not dangerous, they are unsightly and can be even disfiguring. While they can disappear on their own, that process may take up to several years. My vanity had suffered long enough, I mused as a self – centered teenager and I could not wait several more years hoping they might go away on their own. But the thought of liquid nitrogen being put on face was scary for teenager. That night before I went to bed, I called out to God in my fear. My prayer was not a conversation with a dear and beloved Friend but more like a cry to an unknown God who just might be there, much like you would expect from the “proverbial atheist” as his ship is sinking and he finds the fear of death in his heart and mind to much to bear alone and “from a distance” he wails out to the God He doesn’t believe in, the God He never had time for, the God that he never responded to who patiently and continually all his days beckoned him to come to Him in love, “Lord, Save me!”
My prayer went something like that. I went to sleep. The next morning I arose and preparing to go to the doctor’s office with my dad to have the dreaded procedure done once and for all, I went to wash my face and brush my teeth. I could not believe my eyes! There in the mirror I could see no flat warts. The ugly brown growths were completely gone. They had totally vanished in the night! I ran downstairs and asked my father to look at my face. He confirmed that not one remained. He had no explanation for their sudden disappearance. He called the dermatologist and told him that the procedure to remove the flat warts was no longer needed as they were just not there anymore. The dermatologist had no explanation to offer either for their sudden and total disappearance, as this doesn’t happen. My father didn’t know what else to say as a medical doctor to this mystery, but by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, I heard my dad say, “Doctor, you must have blessed those flat warts!” We laughed and thought no more of it. In the Lord’s mercy, I had been totally healed of this unsightly condition in a spectacular way, but neither I nor my father understood. We did not have much faith and therefore, at that time we did not glorify God or even thank the Lord Jesus at all for the gracious miracle of healing that He had performed to draw our attention to His loving Presence.
Decades later, I had finally responded to Jesus’ unrelenting and patient woos of love and had given my heart and life to the Lord and was no longer living for myself but for Him. During this first year of my new life as faith-filled Christian in 2000, at age 40, I attended a church service at a little Pentecostal Church in Pennsylvania. That Sunday there was a guest pastor invited to preach. He testified to the miraculous healing of his own father, who had prayed in fervent faith to Jesus in his living room before a burning fireplace the night before his scheduled surgery to have a large cancer tumor removed from his belly. The tumor could be clearly seen on all the imaging scans done in the large hospital in Texas where his father lived. The visiting pastor shared with the congregation the details of this miracle. When his father went to the hospital in the morning and they prepped him for surgery they looked again at the tumor only to discover it had completely disappeared. In hearing this awesome testimony of our Lord’s power to heal and His love in doing so, the entire church, including myself, became ecstatic in worshipping Jesus.
Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever (First Chronicles 16:34)
The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the LORD. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: “He is good; His love endures forever.” Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud (Second Chronicles 5:13).
As I stepped out of the door onto the grassy lawn after the service, a light of divine understanding powerfully pierced my mind and heart and in that instance, the Holy Spirit showed me that it was He who had healed me decades before of my flat warts that night and I was overcome with emotion. I was full of joy and full of sorrow, simultaneously. I was beside myself with happiness and gratitude, as at that moment, because of having faith, I could see and know that it was the Lord who blessed me all those years ago with a miracle of healing. And yet, I had sorrow as I realized that in those earlier years of my life because I was being my own “god”, I did not give Jesus the thanks due Him or glorify the Living God. Right then and there, outside the little church, I gave Him all my praise, 25 years overdue, and witnessed to everyone around me there on the lawn of the goodness and long-suffering patience of the Lord with me and with all sinners.
And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6).
But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth (Psalms 86:15).
But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.
The Lord does not delay His promise, as some regard “delay,” but He is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2nd Peter 3:8-9)