When our kids were younger we made it a point to read the Bible with them every night. Mikayla had a copy of “The Children’s Bible: Timeless Stories for Children.” As the title would suggest, it contained a wide range of Bible stories and, since it was for children, it also had pictures to go along with each story. We read those stories over and over again during the kids’ younger years. As we read, one story stood out from all the others. It was the story Mikayla called, “The Hurt Man.” It is more popularly known as the story of the Good Samaritan.
Every time we read that particular story, Mikayla would become fixated on the bandage on the man’s head. She wanted to know what was wrong with the hurt man. Even as we tried to explain and continued to read, she would go back to the bandage. She was moderately bothered that the two men passing by didn’t stop to help him. She understood that the man who helped was the hero of the story. But, she couldn’t stop thinking about the hurt man.
The focus of the story of the Good Samaritan, as the popular title would suggest, is the Good Samaritan, not the hurt man. The reality of hurting and broken people in the world is a truth that can’t be avoided. It’s a truth that transcends time. It is an unfortunate thread that runs throughout the entirety of human history. Wherever there are people, there is bound to be hurt.
Hurt is normal, helping is the exception.
In Jesus’ story, two out of three people see the condition of the hurt man and keep walking. Only one person sees the hurt man and cares enough to change course to help as best he can. That means 66% of the people who could do something in the story did nothing. Only 33% tried to make a difference. I wonder how those numbers would compare with the world today. I would be willing to guess they are probably overly optimistic. Hurt is normal, helping is the exception.
The story of the Good Samaritan or The Hurt Man has been at the front of my mind for several months now. The starting point of the story is actually the great commandment. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” The story is meant to answer the question, “Who is my neighbor?” But, it actually answers the question, “Who is the neighbor I should love?” The answer is this, the person in our path. As is often the case, finding one answer leads to more questions to answer. Here are two for us to consider…
Do we see the hurt in those who cross our paths?
Seeing the hurt starts with seeing the person carrying the hurt. Are we willing to get close enough to others that we can see their struggles? We must be careful not to look past the people God brings our way. We need to be courageous enough to see them as they are. The first step in seeing the hurt of another is being close enough to ask how they’re doing and being willing to hear the truth in response.
Do we care enough to go out of our way to help?
Seeing the problem is only part of the equation. As we begin seeing what is causing hurt in the lives of others we must be willing to take the detour, to walk with and assist the person in our path. Too often, we fail to reach out to those God brings into our paths because it is too inconvenient. The personal cost of caring is more than we want to pay. If we are to love neighbor as self, we need to give of self to love neighbor.
We don’t have to look very far to find the hurting. We can no longer pretend it is out there on the road somewhere. It is undeniably present in our communities, in our congregations, and in our homes. Lives are literally being lost. Our hearts should ache when we see the hurting, but more than that they should be energized. As we come alongside the hurting, we bring with us the healing power of the crucified and risen Savior. We hold the hope of the world in our hands. Will we get close enough to offer it to those who need it?