We all know him. That poor schmuck who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He’s been beaten, stripped, robbed and left on the side of the road. And no one will help him. JC tells the parable in front of a lawyer who thinks he can argue semantics with God. Silly man.
Exactly who is my neighbor? the lawyer asks. He’s hoping to find a loophole that will justify his opinion of who he wants to love as his neighbor…and who he doesn’t.
Now, of course the parable is all about showing mercy to everyone. In the story, the assaulted man is Jewish and the man who helps is a Samaritan. The two cultures hate each other and would just as soon die as show the other any kindness. We always look at the story this way. We’re taught to be Good Samaritans and extend help to someone who needs it, regardless of the situation. But do we ever consider that someone‘s point of view?
Here he is, lying on the ground; stripped and robbed; beaten and left for dead. He is crushed physically, emotionally and mentally. He cries out for help to not one…but two…people supposedly in his clique. After all, the two share a culture; a religion. But they look at him lying there in pain, and neither say nor do anything to pick him up and take care of his wounds. In fact, one goes out of his way to avoid having to help.
I’m sure the man is praying for someone to help him. But when help finally arrives….it’s in the form of something very detestable to him. A Samaritan. The man thinks, Thanks God…but a Samaritan!? Couldn’t you have sent someone else? How humiliating to be helped by someone like this. What are people going to say? I’m never going to live this down when the others find out.
How difficult it is for this man to accept help from someone he has been brought up to loathe. To be lifted up, taken to another town and cared for by a man he didn’t know or care to know. Quite the humbling experience.
Most of the time we have a particular type of help in mind when we find ourselves assaulted by life; stripped bare and beaten by circumstances we didn’t invite into our lives; experiencing things that leave us lying in a ditch crying out for help.
But many times God gives us what we need and not what we want.
Help may come in unexpected and unwanted ways. Just like the man on the side of the road, our pride keeps us from wanting to accept a helping hand if it’s not exactly how we want to be helped. Our preconceived opinions and impressions often keep us from recognizing help that can truly heal and make us strong again. Sometimes the people that are willing to lift us up, stand by us and tend to our wounds are not the ones we want to be doing this.
But they are the ones we need.
It was painful for that man to be lifted out of the ditch. It was uncomfortable to travel with injuries to a place where he could be healed. The Samaritan could have abandoned him to fend for himself, but he chose to stay and watch over him during the worst part, knowing the man didn’t really want his help.
Sometimes it’s painful when God lifts us out of the ditch. Our journey to heal is often uncomfortable. Many times we don’t like the things said or done to us while traveling the road to recovery. But God knows what we need. He knows who to put in our path to help us…even when we don’t agree with His choice.
In what ditch has life’s circumstances stripped, robbed and left you for dead?
Is pride keeping you from accepting help from an unlikely hand?
Is help something totally different than what you expected?
Submitted for ABC Wednesday