If only he could get away from the smell. The putrid, oppressive, nauseating smell. Simon sat on the edge of a craggy rock and looked out over the leper colony. How in the world had he wound up here? Banished from society, ostracized even by the people he loved? Dead to the world?
Couldn’t You send a breeze, God? So the smell wouldn’t suffocate me? He lifted his face and tried to peer through the menacing clouds. Are You up there? Do You see me?
Never mind. Simon closed his eyes. The other lepers kept to themselves. Here in the colony, everyone suffered in his own way. Missing family, aching for companionship. Too broken to notice the lepers on either side of him. And so Simon was alone. He who had been one of the most well-known men in Jerusalem had no one to love, no one to talk to, no one to care. His family had deserted him. He had no friends.
No one cared about Simon now. Not one.
Agony swept over him and he studied his hands. His fingers had turned to nubs—not that he could feel them. Leprosy took away the sense of pain everywhere but where it mattered most—in his heart. The pain of loneliness and desperation was more unbearable every day.
His eyes moved up his arms. Every inch of his body was open wounds or tumors. His feet no longer worked properly and his breathing was difficult. He prayed death wouldn’t be far off. He must look like a monster, unrecognizable by human standards. He gritted his teeth. It’s more than I can take, Lord. Why have You done this to me?
He opened his mouth to breathe. Sometimes if he drew air through his open lips he could avoid the stink—for a little while anyway. It was the one part of leprosy no one had told him about. The way his melting flesh would smell.
Thunder rumbled in the distance, an approaching storm almost upon them. Simon uttered a sad sigh. No, that was wrong. The storm had been crashing in on him since the day he first noticed the sores. He hadn’t escaped the storm for a single minute. Simon hardly feared the lightning about to break through the sky overhead. If God wanted to strike him dead here on this rock, so be it. Anything to end his misery.
Then, like he’d done every hour of every day since he’d been sent away, he allowed himself to go back in time, back to life the way it had been. Back when he was healthy and took the hours for granted. When he was surrounded by his wife, Anna, and their two young daughters. He closed his eyes and he could hear their voices, their laughter. The girls were eleven and twelve, adept at cooking and sewing and on the brink of becoming women. Back then they loved Simon more than life.
The ache in his heart was more crippling than his decaying flesh.
Anna hadn’t wanted to leave. The girls wept and begged their mother for another option, a way for the family to stay together. But the disease wouldn’t allow it. When Simon was escorted to the leper colony, his family—like families of other lepers—grieved his loss as if he had died.
He was dead to them, and they were encouraged to move on. Find a new life without him.
Simon wondered how they were doing now. Had they indeed moved on? Would Anna forget about him in time? He could see their faces again, feel his wife in his arms once more. Anna, I still love you. I always will. Tell the girls I miss them.
Simon still had no idea how he could’ve contracted leprosy. In his past life, no one had lived a America’s favorite inspirational novelist and #1 New York Times bestselling author offers a richly told tale about six of Jesus’ closest friends and companions, bringing biblical truths to life in this captivating continuation of her Life-Changing Bible Study series.
In our everyday lives, friends are the people whom we spend the most time with, go through struggles with at times, and who know us best. Each of Jesus’ friends—Peter, John, Matthew, Judas, Mary Magdalene, and Lazarus—traveled with Jesus and were part of His daily ministry, and each has a compelling story to tell. There were some who would question or doubt Him…and one would even betray Him. Kingsbury brings these fascinating personalities to life in ways that will not only help bring you closer to the truths found in Scripture, but also to Christ.
By combining valuable, instructive Bible study with compelling, insightful character sketches of Jesus’ companions, Kingsbury provides you with a deeper understanding of the scriptural teachings featuring these fascinating people. Emotionally powerful, thought-provoking, and soulful, The Friends of Jesus will help you to appreciate the Bible and understand how it applies to your relationships with the most important people in your life.