The Oxford dictionary defines an unsung hero as, “a person who makes a substantive yet unrecognized contribution; a person whose bravery is unknown or unacknowledged.”
Life is full of unsung heroes, people who will never be recognized fully or at all for the vital contributions they’ve made. An unsung hero is basically the opposite of that person who is always trying to “toot they’re own horn”, (I have to say I’ve never written that phrase out, and it looks kind of weird, right?).
Anyway, for the unsung hero their contribution is felt and heard but cannot be traced back to them to account for the positive impact they have had. They go unnoticed, unrecognized, and unthanked.
The other day I was reading a familiar story when all of a sudden I was stopped dead in my tracks. I noticed something so significant I had never seen before. Hidden in this miraculous story was the testimony of a band of unsung heroes who played a major role in the making of this particular miracle.
The story goes like this:
“Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”
Then he went up and touched the coffin they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
I wonder, did you catch it? Did you notice the unsung hero in this story? I mean don’t get down on yourself if you didn’t, I’ve read this story a billion times and never saw it until now.
Think of the scene being painted here though. We’ve all been to funerals and know them to be somber and heavy. The mood Jesus walked into as he entered this town was intense. The stakes were high and the loss was great. This was a widow who had now lost her only son. Her sorrow was unique and crushing.
Her pain was almost palpable because when Jesus saw her his heart leapt towards her. As we envision Jesus approaching this widow and the deceased son, we can imagine that He was coming with intention and authority. If anyone can make a difference here it’s Him.
Now, this is where we could miss our unsung heroes.
In the story do you remember who was faithfully carrying the deceased child? And most importantly who STOOD STILL to allow Jesus to come and touch the coffin, and speak life into this dead boy? When I saw this I began to ask myself some important questions.
What if those carrying the coffin discredited Jesus, and didn’t recognize his authority? Would they have not stopped at all?
What if they didn’t stand still long enough to allow Jesus the chance to make a difference in this sobering situation? Would the miracle have ever happened?
These “bearers” were the ones carrying this seemingly lifeless and hopeless situation. But as Jesus approached, they didn’t refuse Him, but stood still allowing space for Jesus to perform the miracle. Did they know what was going to happen? I’m pretty sure they didn’t. But what they did know was that Someone with authority was approaching the painful situation they were carrying, so they chose to stop and see what He would do.
What pain are we carrying around? What lifeless, hopeless and crushing burden are we shouldering?
What I saw in this story was the importance of recognizing that Jesus is always walking towards us ready to transform our pain and take away our burdens. He desires to bring life from death, beauty from ashes, and joy from sorrow, but it’s also our decision to STOP and STAND STILL long enough for Him to have the space needed to perform the miracle.
This doesn’t always translate directly into a change in our circumstances–which, of course we all want. But, it DOES always translate into a transformation of the condition of our heart. If I’m heavy-hearted Jesus comes to bring a lightness and a deep peace. If I’m riddled with anxiety or depression, Jesus comes to bear my sorrows and fill my heart with His presence.
I understand that this “standing still” or waiting for God to approach is tough, but it’s the most hope-filled and promising posture we can take. Jesus is there with a heart of compassion towards you and is approaching even now to transform the burden you’re carrying into a testimony of his kindness and faithfulness.
Let’s take our queues from our unsung heroes and stand still to see what God will do for us today.