Mad At What’s In Them
Not At Them
In Acts 16, the bible says, “She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, ‘These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.’ This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, ‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And instantly it left her.” It can be easy to get mad at people who exasperate us with their demons, literally and figuratively. In the above account, a girl was wearing out the Apostle Paul with hers. Day after day, depleting his energy, time, patience and focus. I did some research on this text, and (for a simpleton’s sake like me) it broke down like this: The Greek word used for ‘exasperated’ is ‘grieved’ (διαπονηθεὶς). Basically, it’s ‘angry’ and ‘sad.’ Paul was sad at the condition of the girl, and mad at the ongoing, outward display of the evil that possessed her. To be simple: Paul wasn’t mad at her, Paul was mad at what was IN her. And Paul loved her enough to help get it OUT. I get to do life with wonderfully-broken people who have demons of their own (addiction, rebellion, criminal behavior, suicidal thoughts). My heart leaps at chances to help them (and many times, in turn, they’ve made me a better person!) This passage of Paul’s encounter with this girl encourages me to help in 3 ways: 1. that my ”διαπονηθεὶς” be anger mixed WITH sadness/compassion and not just anger, alone. 2. that I do what I can, when I can to help and not assume someone else will. 3. that like Paul, I occasionally see the proverbial demons flee, the brand new person rise up and we both do a praise dance at God’s faithfulness!