And, he looked around at them with anger, grieved by their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. Mark 3:5
This is the story of two hard hearts. In order for the one heart to soften, the first had to soften. As the one heart remained hard, so did the other.
The two hearts belonged to a mother and daughter duo.
The mother’s heart held expectations. Expectations in which she would perform in a certain prescribed way, and the daughter, in turn, would perform in the expected manner. The mother would lay out her high expectations. She would not give in or flex in any way. She would maintain a rigid schedule. And, the daughter would respond appropriately. Theirs would be a perfect dance. Perfect harmony. The perfect equation. Mom’s actions + daughter’s reactions = Harmony.
The daughter’s heart held needs. Needs which required being met in order to move on to later stages. Needs which held a high significance in her life and did not let up. The daughter carried these needs with her each and every day. Although she was not able to express her needs, they continued to haunt her as they went unmet.
Little by little, the mom in this story became disenchanted when her actions did not result in control or change in the daughter’s behavior. Thus a hard heart took root in the mother.
Also, little by little, the daughter found the mom unresponsive to her needs. And her inability to keep up with the demands left her sad. Thus a hard heart took root in the daughter.
Two hard hearts.
In Mark chapter 3, Jesus looked around at the Pharisees and was grieved by their hard hearts. At that same time, the man in need of healing received instruction from Jesus to stretch out his hand. Jesus restored him! Hallelujah!
With their hard hearts, the Pharisees were unable to see what Jesus was up to. But the man with the withered hand followed a different pattern. He came to Jesus in the synagogue with his need. Then he listened to Jesus’ instruction and he obeyed. This resulted in restoration and his need being met.
Back to the story of the two hard hearts. As the mom experienced more and more failure and heartbreak, she found herself at the end of her own resources. Finally, humbling herself, she cried out to God, “What must I do to teach this child? How will I ever get through to her?”
God in His great mercy began to shed His light on the whole situation. He began to show, the now humble mother, just what her daughter needed. The mother’s heart broke at how she had missed the mark. Her desperation for the Lord’s intervention and wisdom increased.
She listened to the Lord and she obeyed.
And little by little the relationship between the mother and daughter was restored.
Little by little, the once hard, wounded, selfish hearts were restored to soft, healed, connected hearts.