Ephraim in the Old Testament could really boast of his great fortune. As second son of Joseph (slave boy, later prisoner who became Egypt’s governor), he was exceedingly surprised that his dying grandfather Jacob, bestowed on him, not to his older brother Manasseh, the special paternal blessing. Jacob’s action was in turn, a déjà vu of his own experience. His own father Isaac too, imparted his benediction on him, the frail younger son, and not on his older, brutish brother Esau.

Why was Ephraim so preferred? He was described as a modest and not a selfish man. Deeper than this, the choice of Ephraim by Jacob, as that of Jacob by Isaac, forms part of the mysterious action of God. The Lord works unexpectedly, shining the spotlight on the dark horse, the underdog, and the little guy. In so doing, God confounds the reasoning of the intelligent but successfully manifests the movements of his heart. This is just how the Lord acts on behalf of those who are nobodies in the world.

The gospel today illustrates this further. Bartimaeus was the ultimate outcast. As blind, he lived in isolation. As beggar, he enjoyed no comfort. Even his attempt to speak was blocked by spectators. But Bartimaeus instinctively knew God’s faithful promises, believed his generous actions, and trusted his merciful heart. He took the risk to get the attention of Jesus, and that was all that the Lord was waiting to hear that day! The rest, they say, is history.

In today’s world, the actions of human beings push us to near despair. The poor become poorer, the oppressed suffer more indignities, the least are also the ignored and forgotten. The government that promises equality gives preference to those who are already rich and powerful. The church that preaches mercy alienates and shuts people up so effectively. The family that must show compassion generates instead favoritism and division. Where else do we go to have hope?

We go to the God who makes the second-born a first born, who transforms the despised into a favored one, who makes the blind beggar feel welcome, accepted and loved – even before he receives his physical miracle! We must believe it when the Word of God says that God overturns human and social orders. We must not be afraid to speak to him out of our darkness, our feebleness and our helplessness. We must be inspired by the good fortune of Ephraim and the miracle of Bartimaeus!

In your situation today, do you feel the need to shout out loud: “Lord Jesus, have mercy on me!”? In prayer, do just that. He will stop to listen. You will receive your favor.