“When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, ‘Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.’ Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’ Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” (Matt. 8:1-3 NIV)
Imagine living in Palestine. One day you are member in fine standing of the community. The next, you discover that you have leprosy. You know that there is NO ONE who can heal you, and suddenly you go from being a respected citizen to someone who has to hide all the time, who has to stay away from everyone, who has to cry out, “I have leprosy!” any time someone is near. You have no one to talk to, unless you are with other lepers, and no one will touch you anymore. You don’t feel human anymore. You feel like you don’t belong in the land of the living. So sad! But perhaps the worst is to know that they sometimes stone lepers! And even if they don’t stone you, death will come.
But then this man, Jesus, who everyone is talking about, comes to you. He isn’t afraid of you like everyone else is! And everything changes as Jesus heals you.
Can’t you just imagine how you would be smiling and dancing? “You saved me! Wow!”
When I had Alzheimer’s and had to go the hospital for a PET scan, I felt like I was a nobody. Fortunately, my wife was with me. She is precious. We sat in the room with another family of someone with Alzheimer’s, and my wife struck up a conversation with her. We were saddened to hear her say things — in front of her husband! — like, “He can’t do anything!” or “He is such a nuisance!” or “I don’t know why we even have to do these stupid tests. Anyone looking at him knows he has Alzheimer’s!” But perhaps the saddest part was when she began to complain about how bad her life had become with him at home, and then she began insinuating that she wished he were gone…
The doctors say that nothing can reverse the losses due to Alzheimer’s. You just keep on losing cognition bit by bit, and this fact continually ran through my mind. What was I becoming? What had I already become? I was told to play internet games, but this truly didn’t help. People would talk about me very quietly, but they wouldn’t talk to me, leaving me feeling even more lonely and left out, and meanwhile, my memory continued to slip on a daily basis.
Those were terrible days for me. Through it all, however, there was One who never left me. He wasn’t afraid to speak to me, either. He began to comfort me by giving me numerous Bible texts about healing, about His love, about He power and desire to heal. I took it all to heart, and I began to get a much bigger sense of God’s extensive love for us.
As I’ve told in former devotionals, Jesus even appeared to me, in my bathroom. He showed His love for — me! The outcast! The one no one would talk to anymore! And even more, He assured me of His grace, earned on the cross. Then He told me He would heal me, bit by bit.
Jesus came to me with grace, and just like He came to the leper and healed him, I know I can trust Him to completely remove all affects of the Alzheimer’s. Hasn’t He, after all, already said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7 NIV)?
Jesus loves you! You can trust Him, for after all, grace came down, and that grace is for the sinners, the lepers, the sick, for everyone. Even for those with Alzheimer’s!
(To access the entire “When Grace Came Down” devotional series, please click here.)