Rev. John Zehring has served as Senior Pastor to UCC churches in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Maine. He is the author of more than sixty books and is a regular writer for The Christian Citizen.
Scripture: Mark 7:31-37 (NRSV)
Then he returned from the region of Tyre, and went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. They brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. Then looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. Then Jesus ordered them to tell no one; but the more he ordered them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. They were astounded beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’
Reflection: Healing of the Deaf
Jesus healed a deaf man with a speech impediment. The crowd was astounded beyond measure, proclaiming “He has done everything well; he even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” While that may be true in a literal sense, it is also true symbolically. People who are deaf to hearing truth change when they are touched by Jesus. The spirit of God can change a person who has nothing good to say. A person blind to goodness has the potential to become a new creation who gains sight and insight when the Holy Spirit works a miracle in his or her life. Not only did Jesus heal the deaf, mute and blind, but he can also heal minds, hearts and souls. There are people who I think are deaf, dumb, and blind to the truth, and I wish for them to become transformed, but the focus of the gospel begins not with them but with me. I, like all of us, must begin with how I might be deaf to the truth and leading of God.
The healing of the deaf man reminds of a quote from Mark Twain: “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” The Dalai Lama (14th) wrote “my religion is kindness.” Kindness is one of the fruits of the spirit given by the Apostle Paul and is an outward sign of God’s inner light. When unkind, we are deaf, dumb and blind to God’s spirit within and stand in need of God’s healing touch.
Jesus healed people with physical disabilities, like people who are deaf or blind. The crowd was astounded. God also heals people’s inner nature. It is also astounding when we witness in others or experience ourselves how God provides healing to our spirit or empowers us with a can-do attitude. When our spirits our crushed or broken, the touch of God heals.
The Psalmist wrote (138:3) “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.” Your soul strength has more to do with your ability to endure or even thrive under adversity than anything else. When the Psalmist did not have enough strength of soul, he called upon God and God increased the strength of his spirit. Perhaps you have witnessed people of faith who faced insurmountable obstacles or heart-wrenching challenges who were able to remain strong and to maintain a positive attitude because of their strength of soul.
Helen Keller, the first deaf-blind American to earn a bachelor of arts degree, said, "Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." That is soul-strength. Whatever the disability, people with a strength of soul learn to...
Use disappointment as material for patience.
Use success as material for thankfulness.
Use uncertainty as material for perseverance.
Use danger as material for courage.
Use praise people give us as material for humility.
Use ingratitude of others as material to remind ourselves to say “Thank you” to God.
Use rejection as material for determination.
Use suffering as material for fortitude.
Perhaps embracing that kind of attitude is just as much a miracle as the blind regaining their sight or the deaf regaining their hearing.
Loving and Compassionate God, I pray that you would heal the deaf or blind places in my spirit and increase my soul strength. Grant that I might embrace the attitude that even in places of hurting, I might determine to overcome suffering.
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prayers of Intercession:
- For the victims and their families of the 454 mass shootings already carried out in 2021
- For the children and teachers in schools
- For the refugees from or still in Afghanistan
- For those still unsure how to best keep their friends and families safe from Covid-19
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- For the joy of anniversaries, however you choose to name or honor them
This Week in History:
August 30, 1967 (54 years ago) Thurgood Marshall becomes the first Black judge to be confirmed as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. He would remain on the court for 24 years before retiring. In his years as a litigator and judge, Marshall was a champion of individual rights, often focusing on minority rights. As a litigator, Marshall successfully argued the 1954 Brown Vs. Board of Education case, stating the "separate but equal" doctrine was unconstitutional and designed to oppress Black people. That case was instrumental in the civil rights movement.
“Study the past if you would define the future.”