Eyes of Compassion – A Story

Peter sat at the corner of the house, his head on his knees, arms on his head. His tears wouldn’t stop. The overwhelming sense of guilt. The Lord knew it would happen and even told him it would.

For three years he followed his Teacher – three years in which he witnessed miracles so extraordinary, so unique, so touching, that they were almost beyond belief. Blind could see, lame could walk, deaf could hear, sick were healed, dead were brought back to life. For three years he sat at the Lord’s feet. He heard Him speak with an authority that he never heard before from anyone else. He saw Him transform right before his eyes, shining brighter than snow, standing with Moses and Elijah. Oh, so many memories of that entire time now all seemed to flood his thoughts. And the more he remembered, the more he cried in anguish.

That particular night seemed to last forever. Peter really thought that he would be the one to never deny the Lord. Oh, he could fling a sword, he was prepared to die for Him. But to live for Him? To acknowledge Him before others? Peter’s mind went through the events of that night, minute by minute. The Lord was taken by so many soldiers, as if coming they were coming for a criminal and He was led to the house of the High Priest. Peter fled with the rest of the disciples, but followed Yeshua to the house. John was able to let him in. Peter watched and heard the interrogation going on inside, including the mocking, the beating, the spiting and the humiliation of the Lord. The King, whose kingdom was not of this world, was treated with less dignity than a slave. 

And then came the moment of truth when he was asked: “You were with Him, weren’t you?” “What are you talking about?” – his first denial. He thought that he can’t be found to be there; no one must know he was a disciple. “If they treat my Master this way, after all He had done…what will become of me?” Fear crept into Peter’s heart. He loved the Lord, but seeing Him now, not defending himself, not responding to the attacks, confused him. He did not understand. “You WERE with Him, you are Galilean”. Peter tried to deny again, swearing he did not know Yeshua. His second denial. “I just want to listen to what is going on inside…” he thought. A third time someone identified him as a disciple. This time, Peter cursed and denied – the third time. Suddenly, the cock crowed. Peter froze as he began to turn, almost without control, to look back inside the house. Yeshua turned His head and looked at him. Amidst all the mockery and beating, Yeshua knew exactly where to look. “Those eyes, He knows“, Peter said to himself. Remorse and anguish overwhelmed him, as he fled from the courtyard. 

Peter remembered the look in the eyes that looked at him. The more he thought of it, the more he realised those eyes were not filled with judgment or anger, but rather, compassion. Yeshua knew this would happen. 

Now, Yeshua is being led to the cross and there is nothing any of them can do. In the midst of the sorrow and anguish, Peter thought, “I must see Him, at least from afar, one last time“. He went and stood at a distance as he saw his beloved Lord carrying a cross on His bruised back, bleeding, unrecognisable from all the beatings and lashes the Romans inflicted on Him. Peter wanted to cry, but his eyes were already red from the tears shed over his own actions. He watched and followed, as they led Yeshua to the cross. There, he saw Miriam, Yeshua’s mother weeping, falling to the ground at the sight of her son, as the nails were driven into His hands and legs. “No mother should see her son die, not like this”, he thought. Emotions were raging inside of Peter, he felt as if he were in a dream, not being able to wake up. Suddenly, the sky went dark and people began to panic. He looked and saw a centurion thrust a spear into Yeshua’s side. That was more than Peter could bare to watch. He was broken. He was overwhelmed. He fled the scene.

A few days later, as he met with the rest of the disciples, no one mentioned what happened. They all knew. They had all heard Yeshua say it would happen. The pain they were all feeling was enormous, as if a member of their own family had died. Peter was beyond being comforted, as guilt lay heavily on his heart. Then there was a commotion and women shouting, “We saw Him! We saw the Lord!” The disciples were startled as a few women came bursting in the room, claiming to have seen the Lord. “He is alive, Yeshua is alive, just like He said!” Peter’s mind was racing. He quickly got up, John along with him and they ran towards the tomb where Yeshua was placed. Peter ran like never before, but John outran him. They made it to the tomb and it was empty, just like the women said. “He’s alive!” Peter tried to think. “What will He say to me? What will I say to Him? How can I face Him again after what I’ve done?”

A short time passed and the disciples were back in Galilee, fishing again, after more than three years of not fishing. It was hard work, but one that Peter enjoyed and gave him some peace. “Look to the shore!” someone yelled. Peter looked up along with the disciples. “It’s Yeshua!” Immediately, he jumped into the water and rushed to get to Yeshua, who had prepared a meal for them, some fish and bread. Peter didn’t say a word, he didn’t know what to say, what to expect. Yeshua asked him, “Do you love me more than these?” Peter looked into those eyes that stared into his.  Three times Yeshua asked him if he loves him. “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You”. Those eyes that were once filled with sadness and compassion now seemed full of love as Yeshua told him to feed His lambs, to tend and shepherd His sheep.

Something had happened. Peter knew it. Healing had taken place at that moment. The guilt and shame Peter felt earlier were gone. The Lord, His Lord, had not condemned him but, rather, welcomed him and showed him forgiveness, mercy and grace. Years later, as Peter was about to die for his faith, he understood. Living for the Lord Yeshua is the greatest sacrifice he could have done, and in his dying for the Lord, he knew he had completed the race.

© Hannah Kramer

Look Up

“and My people who are called by My name shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Sky

We are living through extraordinary times. Nearly every corner of the globe has been affected by the coronavirus, with multitudes getting sick and many dying. Reactions to this pandemic have been varied. Some see it as no more than a conspiracy of sorts, a way for more government control and intervention in every day life. Others see it as a very serious plague, often panicking and buying as much food and supplies as they can in order to be ready for prolonged quarantine. Still others are somewhere in between, seeing the severity of the situation, but still trying to maintain a cheerful and positive outlook. After all, “A joyful heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22).

There is no doubt that many are suffering because of the situation. For some, even though they are healthy, they cannot risk visiting elderly parents or have the parents stay with them for fear of putting the parents at risk of getting sick. Social distancing is affecting many who want to see friends and family. So it is not just the illness itself that is causing pain, it is its social consequences of it as well. 

Much can be said about the implications of this virus on society. I am sure researchers of many fields will study it for years to come, be it the effects on economy, politics, social life, family dynamics (hey, many parents are learning to enjoy family time, while others don’t know how to cope with long-term, constant contacts with spouse and children) and so forth. But one thing I doubt will be the subject of many studies in the future is how people relate to God during this time.

There are several instances of plagues described in scripture. Most notable are the plagues with which God smote Egypt while Israel was enslaved there. Another, when God punished Israel after King David numbered the nation without receiving God’s command to do so. King David, when asked to choose which punishment to receive for his actions, chose a plague, because he said “Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man” (2 Samuel 24:14).  

We don’t know why this pandemic is occurring now, and I certainly am not saying God sent it. An important application for us though, is that when such events happened throughout Israel’s history, people turned back to God, The people’s repentance brought about healing. God gave His Word in the passage above, that if people call upon Him, He will heal their land. But there are a few things the people need to do first: (1) They need to humble themselves. How difficult that is these days, when people and nations fall into the trap of “me, myself and I”, giving themselves the glory and praise. (2) They need to seek His face – This comes only after realising we don’t have the power or the capability to deal with a situation and the answer is not found with us, but with Him. (3) They need to turn from their wicked ways. This is even harder to do. What are these wicked ways? Hurting others, mocking, stepping on others for personal gain, lying, cheating, pride and thinking we know better than God, killing innocents babies (a/k/a abortion), distorting God’s truth (also about his plan for marriage and families). The list goes on and on.      

In today’s world, it is difficult to change one’s ways, admitting they are evil and contrary to God’s will. How can we expect God to help us if we continue to do what He hates? If our nation, if our world, would only realise how far we have drifted from God, how we have insulted Him, turned our backs on Him and even denied He even exists. Despite all that, if the world would now turn back to Him – He is faithful and just to answer and forgive, and if He so chooses, to heal our lands. 

No human being has the power to stop this pandemic and we know the Lord’s “…mercies are great…”. Let us respond differently from all the incorrect responses above. Towards God, let us humble ourselves, seek His face, turn from our wicked ways and call upon Him. The results will follow, and healing will come, because God is not a man that He should lie. And towards man – this is the time to lend a helping hand, open our eyes to those in need and show grace and compassion. There is no restriction on those – even from a distance. 

Stay safe.

© Hannah Kramer

Great is thy faithfulness

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrew 12:1)

It has been a long time since my last post. I’ve been super busy with work and studies and things in between. Now that I have a few days off before the semester starts again,I thought it would be a good time for a new post!

The semester break has been full. I had three papers to write in five weeks, one of which I only started a week ago. By God’s grace, I finished it and handed it in last week. I learned the lesson a while back not to put things off! (and learning to choose my topic for research early during the semester). I had it all planned out – a time frame for each project so that I would have enough time to rest before the new semester. But sometimes, things don’t work out like we want, no matter how well we plan.

Our congregation has been through some rocky times recently. Three of our five Elders suffered from medical issues. I am thankful that they are all on the mend and back serving the Lord. In addition, a very Godly woman, whom I have known since I was a little girl, and who had served faithfully in the congregation, has passed away. She fell ill during our regular, weekly service  and was rushed to the hospital. Within a week and a half, after much prayer and intercession for her, she went to be with the Lord. That was a shock for all of us. This precious woman, whom I loved as a grandmother, and whom many loved dearly, who served faithfully and lovingly, without seeking attention or honour from people, is now awaiting in the presence of the Lord, where there is joy forever. She was a pillar in our congregation, and will be missed by her family in the flesh and in the spirit.

The semester break was packed with events. I attended seminars by Voddie Bachaum who came to visit Israel. They were a real blessing! They were solidly Biblical and very encouraging and it was refreshing to be there, to listen and to learn. I think some of us could have sat there all day long and listened and studied from God’s word. There is always something new to learn, and I did.

We just finished celebrating Purim, the feast mentioned in the book of Esther. “For such a time as this” it seems, our Prime Minister was allowed to address a joint session of the U.S. Congress and spoke on the concerns of Iranian nuclear weaponry. Interestingly enough, I did my university research project on nuclear weapons. His message was quite timely, I think. (If you want an analysis of the speech, as well as some updates on Israel, check this out – http://www.twtw.co.il).

In the midst of all the things I did and experienced this semester break, I could sum them all up with the words of the title to this post. Great is thy Faithfulness. God was and is truly faithful, even when we are not, because He cannot deny Himself. He was faithful in helping me with my projects and with all the pressure I had of getting them done. He was faithful to me at work and in all the other things I had to do. He was faithful to our congregation, in the midst of the difficulties that we experienced. He is faithful in keeping his promises. God was faithful to the Jewish nation during Esther’s time and came to their rescue. God is faithful today, and I have not the slightest doubt that He will do the same thing. He is the Keeper of Israel, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, Who tends to the needs of His flock.

May we be faithful in His service, so that when our time comes to stand before Him, we will one day hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).

© Hannah Kramer