Mark 2: 3-5,12
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven”….He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God,saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
The story above is one of my favorites in the Bible. I wrote about it in my book. And tonight I come back to it.
Recently, I’ve been really discouraged. Discouragement has come for several reasons: financial, relational, and because of the grief over the grief of friends, loved ones, and of those suffering in the world and in the church. Also, I’ve had some recurring anger about how the wicked seem to get away with abusing and oppressing the innocent-part of the problem of evil. I’ve been absorbing a lot of it. And, I am 9+ months pregnant and can hardly get around when I need to get around nor meet certain deadlines because I am exhausted. I could go into details about all of these things, but I won’t.
However, I will tell you that I did go into detail with a group of my friends the other night (online) because I stand by and wholeheartedly believe James 5:16:
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I confessed my sin of resentment toward God and others. I told them how I felt paralyzed by circumstances and how I thought life unfair at this moment because I’m following hard after Christ and still afflicted. I didn’t say this to them, but essentially, I started feeling like Job. And I’m tired of feeling like Job, especially financially. I am ready for a long stay in the Promised Land! I thought I was out of the wilderness, the treacherous land where the devil and his demons and evil want to eat us alive, and where we are tempted to turn from God in order to figure things out on our own because it seems much easier that way-much easier than walking by faith. But then I remember and remind myself that we can see God in all of his glory while in the wilderness if we persevere under trial or have friends persevere with and for us when we just cannot. That’s the whole theme of my book!
But I did confess my sin and soul sickness and my dear friends lowered me through the roof-me the paralytic-me when I was all twisted up inside and despairing. They boldly lowered me through the roof to the feet of Jesus, the throne of grace, where I am promised that I will find help my time of need (Hebrews 4:`16).
And I did find help in my time of need. That very evening when they prayed. Sounds like stories in the gospels, right?
That miracle occurred 48 hours ago. And you know what, I got up. Past nine months pregnant, my spirit leapt up and praised God. I have experienced that peace that defies understanding. Circumstances haven’t changed, but God has done a work of grace in me. He has been loving and kind and faithful and assuring. But that’s not all. I do think he’ll meet my family’s needs as we seek his kingdom (Matt. 6:33). My soul feels stronger and more robust than it has in months -thanks to my friends who lowered me down through the roof to the feet of Jesus.
The thought sometimes comes to my mind that I shouldn’t confide in them – that I am always in need of grace and favor and why ask them for the umpteenth time to pray for me and my situation. They’ll think me needy. But I am needy, in constant need of grace. And God invites us to come in our time of need no matter how often it is. And these friends, they do the same. So I cast the temptation to go at life alone and to suffer alone aside and find the grace of God pouring out on me through the conduit of my friends’ prayers and other concrete acts of love.
May you do the same.