When we read in the Gospels of Jesus’ encounter with a man who had been lame for 38 years and it says that “Jesus saw him lying there” (John 5:6), we might read it as simply stating a fact. But it is actually a very significant statement: Jesus saw him. And when Jesus saw him, it was not merely a quick glance acknowledging that someone was there but it was a penetrating look that discerned much about both the outward and the inward condition of that man.
For that man, and for most people in his condition, being seen in the way Jesus saw him was a very rare occurrence. Far more common was either the staring look of disgust or the looking away of awkward indifference. He was used to being invisible.
But Jesus saw him. Saw him enough to perceive the deeper need of his heart. Saw him not with mere pity, but with compassion. That is how Jesus sees.
In the 5+ years since Anah joined our family, we have experienced something of what the lame man in John 5 experienced–we have received rude and awkward stares, and we have often felt invisible. But at the same time, through those experiences God is opening our eyes to see others who previously were invisible to us–and not just to see them, but to see them with a bit of Jesus’ compassion and mercy.
So I am deeply encouraged when my 9-year-old son comes home from a field-trip and tells me not only about the field-trip itself but also about the people he saw there whom he thought “might have had Down Syndrome too, just like Anah.” What blessed me was the genuine kindness in his voice as he mentioned seeing those people–that it was not something weird or unusual, but was actually meaningful to him. And that was not the first time he has noticed and made mention of people with special needs. God is giving my son eyes to see like Jesus.
For my older kids too, though there may still be some internal discomfort or awkwardness, they are able to interact graciously and comfortably with others they encounter who have special needs. It is not something they avoid or shy away from. God is giving them eyes to see and a heart to respond like Jesus.
For my whole family, we are no longer “weirded out” by strange mannerisms or a lack of social graces–that is our everyday experience with Anah, so we can just smile and shrug our shoulders when we see those behaviors in others too. God is giving all of us eyes to see the person not just the mannerisms–the person created by God who reflects something of His image, no matter how broken or “strange” the exterior appears to be.
What about you? Do you have eyes to see–really see–those around you who are perhaps different than you or awkward to be around? Ask God to give you eyes to see like Jesus…