Better Than Deserving

Everybody is so talented nowadays that the only people I care to honor as deserving real distinction are those who remain in obscurity. ~Thomas Hardy

Nineteen nominations.


Susan Lucci, of American soap opera fame, was nominated for a daytime Emmy award an astounding 19 times before she won. It had become a joke to many; it had to hurt for her.

If you are nominated nineteen times for something, at some point you have to imagine you are deserving of winning. Why is there always someone, or something, better than you?

Maybe you aren’t even nominated. Maybe you just work hard with no recognition.

You clean peanut butter off of the refrigerator door, wipe snot off a  face, and wash urine-soaked bed sheets. No one says thanks.

You stay late to get the paychecks in the accounts on time, fix the printer that someone left jammed again, and send a bouquet of flowers to the secretary whose mother passed. No accolades are offered.

You burn the midnight oil scraping paint in the living room, spend weekends digging out wild weeds and bushes, and pay the neighbor boy to power wash the moldering wall. No one offers to help you put Dad’s house on the market.

It looks like a twentieth non-nomination is on the way. No one sees you. No one notices. No one cares.

In Luke 7, a local hero- most deserving according to the town leaders- needs some help. His friend and servant is sick.

He sends to the town elders to ask if they will go to Jesus on his behalf. He doesn’t feel worthy to go on his own merit. The men ask Jesus to do this favor for the centurion. He deserves it for his help around town.

Jesus goes.

The centurion finds out Jesus is on his way and he has a guilty conscience. He doesn’t believe he is worthy of Jesus’s attention. He sends messengers telling Jesus not to come.

The centurion’s humility results in the servant’s good health.

Luke tells us soon after this, Jesus goes to a little Podunk village called Nain where he sees a widow preparing to bury her only child. No one comes on her behalf. No one intercedes.

But Jesus goes.

He restores the son to his mother.

Whatever it is that you are doing, Jesus notices. When others say you’re deserving, and when you are alone in your grief, he’s there- healing, restoring, blessing.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains –
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip –
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you –
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm –
    he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and for evermore. Psalm 121 NIVUK

Thwarted Expectations

In spite of discouragement and adversity, those who are happiest seem to have a way of learning from difficult times, becoming stronger, wiser and happier as a result. ~Joseph B. Wirthlin

Great expectations swirled around John for as long as he could remember. He was educated as a priest, admired by his community, an up and coming man.

He was sent by God for a special purpose. His cousin, Jesus, had also been set apart; his mother had told him.

Now John was hearing other stories. Unbelievable stories.

Healing diseases. Driving out demons. And now . . . Raising the dead.

So in Luke 7 John sends his disciples  to Jesus to ask if he is the one or if there is another to come.


You’re Jesus’s cousin. You know the stories. You hear about the miracles. And you ask if there is another?

How can you be sent from God and not know that it is God walking through your countryside, healing your people, destroying your enemy?

Maybe it’s because those who are supposed to know God best are against you.

God tells you to feed the homeless, and no one at church wants to help. The Father tells you to parent someone else’s children, and all your friends remind you of your advanced age.

God whispers, “Follow me to a distant land.” And your family shuns your ministry. God writes on your heart to teach your children at home, but you are met with disbelief and anger.

Jesus tells John’s disciples to return with a message: Remember what you have seen and heard, and do not stumble on account of me.

You, too, remember what you have seen and heard. Recall the message you received, and do not stumble.

No matter what the naysayers shout, snicker, or proclaim.

Then he replied to John’s disciples, “Go, report to John what you have seen and heard. Those who were blind are able to see. Those who were crippled now walk. People with skin diseases are cleansed. Those who were deaf now hear. Those who were dead are raised up. And good news is preached to the poor. Happy is anyone who doesn’t stumble along the way because of me.” Luke 7:22-23 CEB