Lessons Learned from Scarlet Fever2
Mark 7:31-37 tells a brief account of Jesus healing a deaf and mute man near the Sea of Galilee. Many times in the past I have read right through this story, and not given it a second thought. In the end, it is Jesus healing another person, yada yada yada. Often, God chooses to reveal dead lessons to me with life experiences, and this teaching moment was no different.
About a month ago, my family and I made a trip up to North Carolina for the baptism of my youngest niece. The night before we left, I came down with a sore throat. I didn't think much of the soreness. It was allergy season, and I often come down with sore throats and stuffy noses. Midway through our ten hour trip the next morning, I could barely speak, and by the time we arrived in North Carolina the throat pain was so miserable I chose not to speak outside of brief hellos. Due to my general medical ineptitude and stubbornness I was still convinced I was just dealing with some bad allergies, and being in North Carolina on a weekend, I had little choice but to tough it out for a few days without a doctor or medicine.
When I woke up the next morning, my throat was even worse and it continued to worsen throughout the weekend. In response to the pain, I became a self imposed mute. It was a very strange couple of days for me, as although I am not an extremely talkative person, I do enjoy interaction and was dying to catch up with my siblings and family members that I had not seen in some time. The inability to return communication ended up being extremely stifling for any interaction I had that weekend.
I began to feel the weight of the muteness affecting my mood, my relationships, and my general well-being. I was partially mute for 3 days, and I could feel myself spiraling down. The man in Mark 7 had spent what we can assume was his entire life deaf and mute. His only interaction with the outside world was a visual and physical interaction. I am pretty sure that the number of people who were fluent in Sign Language during that day and time was few and far between. So based on the small morsel of that bitter life that I tasted, I can only imagine the poor mental and spiritual state of this deaf and mute man when he met Jesus.
The great thing about Jesus' miracles is that he was always much more concerned with our souls than our state of health. In Mark 7, this miracle is the catalyst for a multitude of witnesses proclaiming the Gospel. So in the end I must ask myself: "what spiritual lesson can we learn from my experience?" Firstly, we must remember the spiritual and mental toll that physical ailments place on people. We need to love well, and be intentional about seeking out those who are ailing. Physical sickness can often breed spiritual sickness, and we need to pray and minister to our brothers and sisters in times of need. Secondly we need to be aware that, if being deaf and mute physically can have such a great effect, then spiritual deafness and muteness is an even greater danger. Are we listening to the Gospel? Are we reading the Gospel? Are we speaking the Gospel? With what do we fill our minds? What words come out of our mouths, or out of our keyboard?
Spending 2-3 days without talking sent my mental and physical health into a small tailspin. How often do we go 2-3 days without communicating with our Savior? How often do we go 2-3 days without sharing a Gospel encouragement to a brother or sister in Christ? How do you think this is affecting our spiritual health, and our spiritual mood? In the end we can be eternally thankful that we are offered an eternal, familial relationship with the Great Healer, Jesus Christ. I can also be thankful that Dr. Bubba Nause can prescribe me antibiotics to destroy the Scarlet Fever I had acquired, but it is only Jesus that can heal a deaf and mute soul. Let us not be self imposed deaf and mute Christians. We have been made alive in Christ, so let us encourage each other to live that life to its fullest.