Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people withleprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering grew to love him, revering thesacrificial life he lived out before them. But even he did not know the price he would eventually pay.
One morning before he was to lead their daily worship, he poured some boiling water intoa cup when it swirled out and fell on his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that hehad not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. He walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, and no one at first noticedthe difference in his opening line. You see, he normally greeted them, “My fellowbelievers.” But this morning he began with, “My fellow lepers.”
Think of the cost! It is one thing to minister and pour your life into others when distanceremains between the minister and the receiver. It is quite another when sacrifice closes that distance in painful relief. In the greatest condescension imaginable, Jesus came intothis world knowing what obedience to the Father would cost Him. He was fully aware, in the words of the prophet Isaiah, that it would be His Father’s will to crush Him. Still, He came.
Listen to “The Coming,” a poem by R.S. Thomas:
And God held in His hand a small globe.Look, He said. The son looked.Far off, as through water, He saw a scorched land of fierce colour.
The light burned there;Crusted buildings cast their shadows, A right serpent, a river uncoiled itself, radiant with slime.On a bare hill,a bare tree saddened the sky.Many people held out their thin arms to it, As though waiting for a vanished April to return to its crossed boughs. The son watched them. Let me go there, he said.
Jesus went to the cross willingly and with full knowledge of the price he would pay. Hecame to transform and restore broken lives. Perhaps you find yourself today, friend, besetby feelings of failure – perhaps even shame or worthlessness over a decision you’ve madeor the direction of your life.
Please hear me now. Jesus came and paid dearly the price for your failures, and this is areason for hope – even a hope that does not disappoint as God pours His love into yourheart. Seek Him today.