Pleading for the Lepers

August 9th, 2007 • Category: Women of the OT
by Julie Benson

Today’s scripture: Numbers 12 (NRSV) (The Message)

As you read, consider: What might God be saying to me in this passage? Summarize your thoughts in a sentence or two before reading on.

My thoughts on this passage (Julie Benson):

I have always been fascinated with Miriam — she was, after all, the first woman noted in scripture to sing praise before the Lord! Equally fascinating, however, is the way Miriam was stricken with leprosy, but ultimately was only subjected to seven days of life as a leper. Miriam could have cried and begged to the Lord, however, it was her brothers who pleaded on her behalf.

I am pleading for the lepers in today’s society.

A friend once confided in me that he feels like a leper because he is HIV-positive. This beautiful, talented, generous, and passionate disciple of Christ appreciates each new day and the wonders that life has to hold. He is filled with laughter and love, joy and compassion, freedom and Spirit.

But he has been rejected by the world and struggles to find acceptance because he is a “leper.” It is quite a common story among those living with HIV and AIDS. These are God’s children right here in Indiana — and under our own church roof.

Just like lepers in Bible times, our HIV-positive brothers and sisters are being cut off from society, rejected by family members, shunned by friends, and quickly abandoned by potential love interests as soon as the issue surfaces.

Who is pleading on their behalf?

Who is being Jesus to them?

In a time when it was unthinkable to be in the presence of a leper, Jesus had no qualms or conditions whatsoever. Before Jesus healed the leper who was brave enough to approach Him on the road, Jesus reached out His hand and touched him. And I do not find it one bit ironic that scripture points out that it was in the home of Simon the leper that Jesus was anointed with a costly jar of perfume, broken and spilled out, the day before His crucifixion.

You see, Jesus was safe to be with. Those who were suffering could come out of the closet and receive love and acceptance just as they were. We have a sacred duty to stamp out our own fear and prejudice and to give all of our brothers and sisters a place to be themselves. Once we have honestly accomplished this task, it is our responsibility to promote education and awareness so that others can do the same.

Would Jesus want anything different?

Thought for the day: May God convict our hearts with compassion and understanding so that we might plead on behalf of others.

Today, let’s join together in prayer for: those who are living with HIV/AIDS, and for the world that often casts them aside.

We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. Use the item above as a starting point, or consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.

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