‘The Chosen’ shows healing is often a journey rather than ‘once and done’

My Vocation is Love Lindsey Weishar

This Lent marked my first foray into the world of “The Chosen.” This multi-season show about the life of Christ just released its third season at the end of 2022, and continues to move hearts. I am happy to count my own heart among them.

For me, the show has been speaking deeply about the nature of healing. I’d never thought much about it, but in the Gospels, there’s the sense that once Jesus entered people’s lives, their whole worlds shifted — and it’s tempting to conflate that reality with the idea that they stopped suffering or struggling with sin.

The writers of “The Chosen” masterfully show us how this just isn’t the case. The work of healing is not a once-and-done reality. Jesus certainly heals the lame, the blind, and those possessed by demons, and that change is often instant, but “The Chosen” does well in imagining the “after” for some of the key characters.

REDEMPTION COMES DAY BY DAY. . . .

One of these characters is Mary Magdalene, who Jesus heals of demonic possession in Season 1, Episode 1. In a beautiful scene where he calls her name and holds her close to himself while she cries, he rids her of her demons.

My prayer for us as we journey into Holy Week is that we may follow our Wounded Healer to the cross. May we in our sufferings unite ourselves to Him, who intimately knows every struggle.

And yet, Mary’s struggle for integration is not over. In Season 2, Episode 5, encounters with a Roman soldier and a man possessed by a demon disturb her, and in an attempt to numb the pain that has resurfaced, she leaves Jesus and the disciples for a gambling den. In Season 2, Episode 6, having been found by Matthew and Peter, she returns to Jesus and apologizes to him. In her overwhelming shame, she tells Jesus, “You redeemed me, and I just threw it all away.” Jesus replies, “Well, that isn’t much of a redemption if it can be lost in a day is it? . . . I just want your heart. The Father just wants your heart. Give Us that, which you already have, and the rest will come in time. Did you really think that you’d never struggle or sin again?” He forgives her, and similar to the day he redeemed her from her demons, he takes her into his arms again.

I’m touched by this reminder that when it comes to our sins and personal struggles, redemption may be a day by day, and even hour by hour work. We should expect setbacks, and not be discouraged by our failings. As the scene between Jesus and Mary Magdalene shows, he only needs our return, our seeking of forgiveness.

GOD DOES NOTHING IN VAIN

But what about those struggles not born of sin — like chronic illness, mental health struggles, or setbacks that have made life difficult? In such struggles, some of us may feel forgotten by the Father. “Why won’t you heal me?” we might ask. This question is one the writers of “The Chosen” beautifully address in a scene with disciple James the Lesser in Season 3, Episode 2. James has had a type of paralysis since birth that requires him to walk with a staff. Before being sent out two by two to preach and heal, James asks Jesus why Jesus hasn’t healed him. Jesus tells him:

“In the Father’s will, I could heal you right now. And you’d have a good story to tell, yes? . . . But think of the story you have, especially in this journey to come, if I don’t heal you. To know how to proclaim that you still praise God in spite of this; to know how to focus on all that matters so much more than the body; to show people that you can be patient with your suffering here on earth, because you know you will spend eternity with no suffering. Not everyone can understand that. How many people do you think the Father and I trust this with, hmm? Not many. “

Here, Jesus does not explain why James suffers but that James has the ability to glorify God in his suffering. Before departing, Jesus tells James, “And James, remember, you will be healed.”

Compelling in this conversation is the reminder to those who suffer on earth that their suffering will pass away. Though it can be painful to think that we may not be (fully) healed this side of heaven, in the mystery of God’s plan, how incredible that we may do more for him suffering than we could for him in perfect health. As a meditation by St. John Newman says, “If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about.”

My prayer for us as we journey into Holy Week is that we may follow our Wounded Healer to the cross. May we in our sufferings unite ourselves to Him, who intimately knows every struggle. May we believe in the resurrection as a reality that is meant for us, one that can and will transform our sorrows.

LINDSEY WEISHAR is a poet, freelance writer, and native of Champaign who has a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She is executive assistant to the president of Donnelly College in Kansas City, Kansas. Write to her at lweisharwriting@gmail.com.

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