Benjamin is a young man with great prospects: a wonderful father to two lovely children, a wonderful husband and a great provider for his family. The jewel on his crown is that he loves the Lord and serves Him as well. As a mid-level executive in one of the leading firms in the country he was doing well financially, however, due to the financial upheaval at the time, he lost his job. As time went on with no job in sight, he could not pay his children’s school fees and his rent. His wife had to move back to her parent’s home with the children, at the same time trying to hold down two jobs in order to fend for them. Since their house rent was not paid, Benjamin was sent packing; he moved to the church for refuge. Though the church was supportive, the absence of a job caused the Pastor to approach him to look for alternative accommodation as it was not conducive for him to remain, as the church could not accommodate him; and being a small church they cannot afford to rent an apartment for him either. To make matters worse for Benjamin, his Pastor called him aside and asked him: “why is God not answering you?” This question was a terrible blow to him and it reinforced his thoughts that God has finally forsaken him for a crime he does not know about or when he committed it. He had fasted, prayed and sowed the little he had left but no change. If the church pastor is asking him this question, then there was no hope for him. Where will he go? He was seriously considering returning back to the world. When I came across Benjamin, after hearing his story, I knew in my heart that God had a wonderful plan for him.
Benjamin’s predicament calls to mind the story of a leper in Matthew 8:1-4. The leper like Benjamin had lost everything and had become a pariah to his family and the people of God. Let’s draw some lessons from the narrative. Firstly, when the leper came to Christ, the Bible says he prostrated himself before Him. He did not kneel, stand or bow! His prostration was a sign that he had gotten to the end, emptied, there was nowhere else to go; he made himself of no repute; after all, he that is down, need fear no fall! The Bible tells us that when we humble ourselves, the Lord will exalt us. Jesus Christ Himself did this when He left His glory and took on our form as a slave, He emptied and humbled Himself, thereby God exalted Him (Philippians 2:6-11). Coming to God in all our pageantry and knowledge, we are blinded to His glory and power that is able to change and regenerate us. Thus, we must lose sight of ourselves and focus solely on Him!
Secondly, the leper declared “…Lord, if You are willing, You are able to cleanse me by curing me” (Matthew 8:2b). This means, he was not blaming God or any other for his predicament; neither was he blackmailing or threatening God for a healing. So many have the terrible mindset that their service especially their giving and tithing should ward off such terrible events happening to them. Their hope is that God will pay them back in kind. Some declare that they expect huge returns for their ‘faith-giving’ that was why we saw Benjamin sowing his last bit with the hope that God will pay him back by restoring his fortunes. These ones have a misguided view that God is a giant roulette table: the more you play the more your chances of winning; this translates to mean, the more you sow, the bigger your reward! Of course when things don’t turn out the way they want, they begin to throw spiritual tantrums against God and His people by reminding Him of their services and ‘monetary sacrifices’ and demand a pay back! I heard a sister pray in like manner and when I asked her why she prayed in such a manner, she quoted “Remember me favorably, my God for all that I have done for this people” (Nehemiah 5:19). I reminded her that the verse does not mean ‘God, You owe me’ but rather, the service rendered at the time should be a continual memorial sacrifice before God that is pleasing to Him. When we go to God with a sense of entitlement, we end up getting frustrated as we receive nothing. God is not moved by our threats and tantrums. When Elijah tried it, God clearly replied him that there were 7,000 prophets apart from him that are standing. When we come to God, we should ask Him for His grace and mercy; He has promised us that He will never leave nor forsake us not for what we had done but for what He had done! When Jesus saw the humility and the surrender of the leper’s heart, Jesus Christ had compassion on him and said: “I am willing…” (Matthew 8:3b). Friend, except God is willing, nothing can happen! But if we force His hand as the children of Israel did, then He will send a wasting disease after the miracle (Psalm 106:15).
Thirdly, Jesus Christ told him to go and show himself to the priest. The priest’s faith needed to be buoyed up at this time. One can imagine how much he may have prayed and questioned the situation the brother was in. This tells us that even after our pastors and brethren may have said hurtful things about us and our faith, when the miracle occurs, instead of maligning them, we should return to them and do the needful. This will not only help the pastor back on track but will equally help the faith of the congregation. Benjamin went through these steps and his life had been restored, better than before because Jesus Christ is willing! Friend, no matter what you are going through and no matter how damaging the things your pastors or others have said and are saying, do humbly go before God (1Peter 5:5), acknowledge Who He is and follow His instructions (Hebrews 11:6); because God is indeed willing and waiting for you: “Now the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little” (1Peter 5:10). God bless you!