I love the story of Zacchaeus. He was short. I am short. He was rich. I’m a Dave Ramsey student. He could climb a tree. I like to look at trees. What I really love about Zacchaeus is that he was desperate for Jesus. Being desperate means feeling hopeless. Being desperate is when you have tried so many other things and all attempts have failed. This is it. Do or die. It’s critical. It’s risky. It’s a last-ditch effort. You realize there’s no way. There’s only Jesus.
Zacchaeus was a sinner, like you, like me. He recognized that his life was hopeless. He realized it was do or die. He wanted so badly to see Jesus. All he wanted was Jesus. But he couldn’t see him. He was too short. He ran. He ran ahead and climbed higher. Higher. He climbed up a sycamore tree so he could catch a glimpse of Jesus. He did all he could to see Him.
We live in a different time than Zacchaeus but we too can see Jesus. We actually are blessed with the Holy Spirit, God in us, when we accept Christ. So anytime we want to catch a glimpse of Jesus, we simply need to pray, to read His Word. We don’t have to climb trees. We don’t have to run fast to get ahead. He’s right there within reach. Are you reaching? Are you desperate for Jesus? Is He all you want right now?
“Then Jesus entered and walked through Jericho. There was a man there, his name Zacchaeus, the head tax man and quite rich. He wanted desperately to see Jesus, but the crowd was in his way—he was a short man and couldn’t see over the crowd. So he ran on ahead and climbed up in a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus when he came by.”
-Luke 19:1-4 [MSG]
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were in prison singing hymns. An earthquake opened the prison doors but the prisoners stayed. Free to stay. Why? Why didn’t they run? They were bringing Hope.
The jailer woke up from the earthquake and saw all the doors of the prison open. He immediately decided to kill himself because he would have been killed anyway for allowing the prisoners to escape. He felt hopeless. This reminds me of Elijah and the hopeless woman and her son. Do you remember she wanted to eat the food she had left and then die? In 1 Kings 17, you find this widow of Zarephath feeling hopeless, just as this jailer. Elijah was bringing Hope.
In both cases, this sense of hopelessness was met with the presence of God. Paul and the others stayed. The jailer asked what to do to be saved. He and his household were saved. The widow and her son never ran out of oil. What was once hopeless was no longer. The jailer was then “filled with joy” (v. 34). From hopeless to joy—you can have that too!
“The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped… He then brought them out and asked, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’” – Acts 16:27, 30 [NIV]
On September 13, Australia had celebrated a day that is known as R U Ok?Day. RU Ok?Day is actually a national day there, and it’s held the second Thursday of September. This day is focused on building awareness of people– asking people if they are okay and being genuinely supportive. Too often we overlook our fellow man and neglect to see the struggles they are going through in life. Sadly, some people are hurting so badly and would feel so much better if someone would ask the simple question, are you okay? My family has personally been affected by depression and suicide. It is the sad, but all to real truth.
I remember so many times in life when I was going through a tough period and did not feel like I could talk to anyone. There is the fear of judgment, the fear of rejection, the feeling of hopelessness and lack of support, and a sad road to depression. Sometimes a person simply needs to have support– but it seems like support is hard to come by and then there is the feeling of being alone in the world. I know; I have been there. People need people. God made us to need community.
As Christians, we are never alone. God is always with us. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit so no matter if we are in our car driving along the highway, in the middle of a park, or at home all alone, we are never truly alone. Even so, there are times when it seems as if the world is crushing down upon us and we do not feel like we can handle it. It is at these moments, we really need a hand to reach out to us. The Bible says we are to be there to support others. We are to help the poor, to encourage our fellow Christians, to teach, to share, etc.
Today might be a good day for you and you may be feeling just fine. At the same time, the person next to you might not be doing so well. R U Ok?Day was created to encourage people to ask other people if they are okay. Perhaps you are not from Australia or it is not even the 13th of September where you are located. Even so, when you come upon the next person wherever you may be, ask them if they are okay. Not simply to ask and pass by quickly. Invite them to answer. Be the support that you wish to have on your worst day. That person may need it more than you will ever know.
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:23-25 [NASB]