A young man asked Socrates the secret to success. Socrates told the young man to meet him near the river the next morning. They met. Socrates asked the young man to walk with him toward the river. When the water got up to their neck, Socrates took the young man by surprise and ducked him into the water. The boy struggled to get out but Socrates was strong and kept him there until the boy started turning blue. Socrates pulled his head out of the water and the first thing the young man did was to gasp and take a deep breath of air. Socrates asked, ‘What did you want the most when you were there?” The boy replied, “Air.” Socrates said, “That is the secret to success. When you want success as badly as you wanted the air, then you will get it.” There is no other secret.
I can’t imagine how to carry such a cross as blindness. It was a tragedy and yet a blessing. As tragedy, he no longer could see and was relegated to eating dust daily as he sat at the roadside begging. Yet, there was a blessing. This blindness would drive him to seek out Jesus. Just like a small fire cannot give much heat, a weak desire cannot produce great results…Jesus passed by Bartimaeus who knew it was his moment; he acted.
Though Jesus was “playing hard to get” because he didn’t “hear him”, it didn’t deter Bartimaeus. The blessing of blindness had made Bartimeus so determined to receive healing that nothing would impede him from going to Jesus; he had such clarity of desire!
“He threw off his cloak.” This little detail speaks volumes. It meant that Bartimaeus wasn’t going back to his dust chair; he knew Christ would heal him and turning back wasn’t an option.
He persevered. It’s easy to give up and throw in the towel giving up on people and on ourselves. Haven’t we all experienced those malevolent minions called frustrations that have an uncanny ability to dig under our skin! Naysayers will abound, but Bartimaeus teaches us to perseverance power which requires great courage.
Perseverance is first of all a matter of faith. I fail, and I repent, and I fail, and I repent day after day. I don’t seem to be getting anywhere. But this is no surprise. I am weak. He will change me in his way, according to his plan, in his time. The great temptation is always frustration and discouragement. “Selfish,” an evil voice whispers, “that is the way you are. You are never going to change!” The devil is trying to make me forget God. No! What I need is God’s saving and transforming love. I need to remember him, believe in him, adhere to him, and be forgiven again and again and again. It all comes down to faith: Faith recognizes that he is here and that he has promised me the fullness of life and love. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only-begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9). Never Give Up: My Life and God’s Mercy (Janaro, John)