Compassionate Love: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness (c) 2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
[The following is an excerpt from They Were Real (c) 2014
Inspired by Joshua 2:1–21 and Matthew 1:5–16 ]
She closes the door with a counterfeit smile as the corner of the last coat passes from shadow to dawn. The traveler had left scents of sweat, and the cold feel of cash in her palm. Sleep deprivation and guilt challenge her ability to care, to feel anything this moment. She returns to her bed, this time to sleep most of the day away.
She is a victim of circumstance, a prostitute without options, she tells herself, laying her head on her pillow. Having no husband or children in this society means poverty for a woman. Clasping tightly her coins, she closes off her mind until they each fall, clattering to the floor.
Knock. Knock. Knock.
It is not time yet, her foggy mind tells her. She peers at her window. She is right, the new day is not over as the sun has not yet drifted below the tops of nearby hills. What could anyone want?
Two young men stand outside in the early evening heat. Rahab recognizes immediately these are not ordinary customers; they are Israelites. Fully awake now, she sees her chance.
“Come in, quickly. Did anyone see you?” They shake their heads.
Quickly climbing the narrow ladder leading to her roof, her thoughts focus. This is my chance. This is my one opportunity. Do not waste it! Nervously, she listens. The visitors’ voices are whispers, but at least she knows they are still there. Do not leave!
Harvest had ended only a few days earlier. Fresh flax with which to cover her roof is still resting in the daylight to dry. Grasping one stalk after another, Rahab organizes them into a makeshift hedge, double-checking to leave no holes a neighbor could see through. Confident in her complete wall, she descends into her house to face the strangers.
“Go to the roof. I have made it private. Lie down there until I give the word.”
Jericho sits on a nine-acre mound surrounded by desert. It is because of a ceaseless spring that the founders built a town here at all. It is the source for drinking, washing, and irrigating. Because of this water, most houses have jars overflowing with fresh post harvest grain. Essentially, they are prepared to hold out for years in the case of a siege. Still, rumors fly about those Israelites whose army is defeating city-kingdoms at a fast rate. Fear grips the hearts of men in Jericho.
Rahab knows her neighborhood. This is where the poor find space in an increasingly crowded city. Where she lives, no one wants to be. The back of her home is against the city’s six-foot-deep protective wall. If anyone wants to attack Jericho, he will have to find a way to climb the twenty-foot fortification and somehow avoid the arrows of Jericho’s best sharpshooters.
Her house and those of others in low circumstance are vulnerable because this is where any attempt at a takeover will happen. Rich people do not live against the wall. Only society’s “disposable” make their homes here.
Desperation of the kind known only among the hopelessly hungry and ill causes normally good people to commit acts they would not consider under better circumstances. No doubt, someone saw these men enter her house and seized the opportunity to gain a few coins or favor from the king by turning them in.
It is no surprise when some of the king’s men pound on her door and shout for her to come outside.
“Bring out the men who entered your house, for they are spies!”
Rahab is brave. “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from and do not know where they have gone. They left only a few minutes ago. Pursue them quickly and you will overtake them.”
The king’s men set out, and the city gate shuts behind them.
The Israelite visitors had remained quiet for over an hour. They needed to escape Jericho. Ushering them back inside, Rahab pleads, “We know who you are and why you are here. The men of Jericho have spoken of little else for weeks. We have heard how your God leads you to victory after victory, and great fear has numbed our entire city. I’ll help you out, but when you return with your army, please protect me and my family.”
“Have a scarlet cord tied in the window, and make certain all of your loved ones are in this house.”
Wrapping a strong rope around a beam and crawling one by one through the thick hole in the wall that passes for Rahab’s window, the men climb down to the open field. Rahab retrieves the rope.
This is my chance at survival and my last opportunity to become the kind of woman I long to be. Once out of Jericho and among the Israelites, maybe I could marry and have children! Perhaps their God will grant me joy. Rahab’s hopes for happiness are not new.
Over the next three days, she informs her family. In keeping with the promise, Israelite soldiers attack Jericho but rescue Rahab and all who have jammed into her tiny house.
It is yet another act of gracious forgiveness and love that God leads Rahab to her future husband and gives them a son. Her great-great-grandchild is David, the king of Israel. Several generations later, her bloodline produces Jesus, the promised Messiah, Son of God.
Whom God favors includes the poorest of our poor, most sinful of our sinners, and the least of our least. He welcomes all who believe into his family. Consider Rahab. While God’s one and only natural Son lived on earth, he had the DNA of a foreign ex-prostitute running through his veins.
God’s love rejects no one.
Today’s Helpful Word
James 2: 24-26 (NLT)
“ You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.“
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NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.
If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.