Life isn't always fair. Simeon remembered his mother speaking those words a multitude of times when he was a child. He could picture his stern, no-nonsense momma even in this moment. She was standing over him, the index finger of her right hand shaking, lecturing him because he had been complaining again.
Yeah, Momma, life isn't always fair and right now I'm drowning in the unfairness of it all.
Simeon hadn't always been crippled. Two years earlier he owned a carpenter shop with a growing reputation in Jerusalem. An accident with some runaway donkeys left him with mangled legs and hands. Realizing he wouldn't be able to take care of a family, he broke up with his fiancé. He felt the life of a beggar wouldn't be fair to her.
Momma, at least you're not alive to see this…you would be ashamed of me.
Simeon arose from his beggar's spot by the main gate into the temple. Swaying back and forth until he could get his legs under his wooden crutches, he painfully stood to his feet. His white knuckles gave evidence to the grip he had on the basket of fruits and vegetables he held in one hand, along with a crutch. Stumbling on the dirt road, Simeon was determined to get the basket home.
"Thank you, Lord, for the food," he prayed. "It's made for a short work day. Still early morning and I have a bountiful harvest already. Not to mention the several coins jingling in my pocket. Life may be unfair, Lord, but You are always faithful."
The Harvest Festival of Shavuot was one of his favorite times of year. When people brought offerings of their first fruits to the Lord, they were generous in their giving and some of the produce found its way into many a beggar's basket. The feast was also a celebration of the day God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, fifty days after their exodus from Egypt.
The roads of Jerusalem had been crowded since before sunrise. Jews came from every region of Israel for the festival, along with numerous foreign countries being represented.
"Hey, watch where you're going," a man shouted as Simeon tripped over someone's foot and fell to the ground. Spitting dirt from his mouth, he pulled himself up onto his hands and knees. Crawling around, Simeon was able to gather most of the fruits and vegetables which spilled from his basket.
Finally on his way once again, he continued to be pushed and shoved by the throngs of people. On one narrow street, Simeon was caught up in a sea of humanity so tightly woven together it seemed the people moved and breathed as one. Although the crowd kept him from falling, it also caused him to move with the flow in a direction he didn't want to go.
"Please, someone help me," Simeon cried into the den of voices. "God, why is this happening to me? I can't take any more. Have mercy on my soul."
The throng pushed its way onto a broader road, and with one huge sigh, became individuals once again. Yet a second time, he tumbled onto the hard ground. Although folks completely ignored him, they did notice his fruits and vegetables. Scrambling for the food, adults and children thanked God for their special morning snack.
The discouraged, broken young man crawled out of the way. Leaning against a wall, the tears fell. His body raggedly rose and fell with each heart-wrenching sob.
"God, where are you?" he screamed to the heavens.
Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled an upper room directly across the road from where Simeon was sitting. He could see several people standing at an open window with what seemed to be like tongues of fire resting on each of them.*
The noise from the room was chaotic. It sounded like the people were speaking various foreign languages. The commotion drew a large crowd. All were amazed to indeed hear voices praising God in various dialects. After the mob of people passed judgment on those in the upper room proclaiming them possible drunkards, a man named Peter walked out onto a balcony.
"Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…"*
As Peter continued to talk on that Day of Pentecost, for the first time in two years, hope began to rise up within Simeon.
*Acts 2:1-41 (NIV)
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