When our daughter Liberty (Libby) was born 16 months ago, Tasha and I were once again thrown into the world of being parents of a newborn. By this time our first born Joel was 6 and we felt like we had forgotten everything. When the midwife called after a few days she said one phrase that stood out “You get to know what the different cries are for!” Little did she know that her throw away statement would become a major source of meditation for me for the next few weeks, as I began to think about God being the discerner of the cries of our hearts.
Parents get to know their child’s cry; the one that is for attention, the one for a nappy to be changed or the cry to be fed. Our heavenly Father who sees all knows the various cries that come from our hearts. We have all been guilty of passionately praying for something only to give up and sometime later be thankful God did not answer that prayer. He discerns between our cries and we should be thankful He does.
Amidst all the cries we send out to God there is one that always gets his attention, that always makes him stop and take note, a cry that comes from our heart that can totally change our lives. It is the cry of the desperate, the cry of desperation when someone has nowhere else to turn. Crying out in desperation may happen when we feel out of control, when we have no solution for the situation. The cry of desperation comes from a humble heart. It is a call for help, which is not premeditated, neither is it hopeful thinking, but it wells up from our soul due to the circumstances; a cry of urgency. A cry that expresses itself in a vocalised loud voice.
In Mark 10 Bartimaeus is an example of just what can happen when you get desperate enough for God. His whole life is changed; it is completely transformed because of a cry of desperation. Bartimaeus was blind, we are not sure for how long but he did not have the pleasures we get from having sight, neither did he have the temptations we face from having sight. He gets his sight back that day, Jesus makes him see again. This story gives hope that loss can be restored, tragedy can be turned into blessing, that longing can be met by God in a way we could never have imagined.
Why do some people receive breakthrough from God and others don’t? Why do some walk closer to God and experience him in breathtaking and overwhelming ways while others experience little? Maybe it is because they press in, because they are bold, because they approach God with faith. Maybe they receive from God because they vocalize their desperation. They border on rudeness and even being aggressive but they will not be deterred.
Christ approaches Bartimaeus and this blind beggar will not let him pass by. He hears Jesus is going to come past where he regularly sits and begs and he is not willing to let Jesus just pass by without meeting his need. He is going to take his opportunity no matter what. This is an appointed day for him. The same way we have all had appointed days that change us radically, days that are ordained by God when we must make sure we don’t allow him to just pass by. Bartimaeus knew it was his appointed day and he was not going to sit back and let it pass by so he shouted loudly. What would you do if this was your appointed day? Would you shout? Would you kneel? Would you cry out for help?
There were many who rebuked Bartimaeus. Philip’s translation says, “…Bartimaeus…. a blind beggar, was sitting in his usual place by the side of the road…. begging.” As long as Bartimaeus sat in his “usual” place,” they had no objection. As long as he continued to beg for handouts, the people were composed, they could go about their normal life. But when Bartimaeus decided to act on his faith and separate himself from the rest of the crowd, when he chose to rise up and cry out to God the people became very upset. But desperate people will do desperate things. A heart that is overflowing and full of faith cannot be silenced. This kind of desperation causes you to be bold and tenacious.
Bartimaeus was told to rise to his feet Jesus was calling him. Jesus said “What do you want me to do for you?” This is a continual question we are asked by Jesus. What can I do for you? What is your deepest longing for yourself, family, community, for the Church. The question that we must ask ourselves is why was Bartimaeus the only one that received a miracle that day? What caused the rest of the crowd to be so passive and undetermined to see their own needs met? Bartimaeus did not hesitate. He knew what he wanted, to see again. Even that phrase he uses ‘recover my sight’ ‘see again’ it says so much. Surely that is the cry of our hearts to see again spiritually! To see God visit us and do miraculous things. Gideon said ‘Where are the miracles our father told us about?’ We need to recover our spiritual sight.
Like Bartimaeus we need to get desperate knowing God is the discerner of our cries. Jesus is passing by; make sure you don’t miss him.