Matthew 9:1-8 Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralyzed man, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.” At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, “This fellow is blaspheming!” Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, “Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “Get up, take your mat and go home.” Then the man got up and went home. When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to man.
Sometimes you have to let someone else do the lifting.
I was determined to do it on my own, but it wasn’t working out well. We were hiking Old Rag out in Shenandoah National Park, and if you’ve ever hiked this mountain, you know there are places you need to climb and jump from rock to rock. While I am a runner, I was finding some of the climbing to be difficult—especially when we reached one section where I just couldn’t boost myself. But the good news was that I was with a friend who is taller than me and who has a bit more upper body strength. He was able to climb ahead. He watched me struggle for a few minutes and then reached down to offer a hand. I hesitated. But then I reluctantly let him lift me up over the rocks, and we were well on our way.
Outside of hiking, we all have been in situations when we’ve been unable to lift ourselves—when we’ve been physically sick or emotionally drained, when we’ve been impacted by a tragedy or confused about a situation, when we’ve been so very weak and as much as we’ve tried, we can’t help ourselves. We feel weak and vulnerable. In those situations, our instinct is to try harder, to hide, or to nurse our wounds in the dark so nobody can see our weakness. But what if we actually should be doing the opposite—not for our sake but for the sake of others?
What if it’s our pride that gets in the way of what Jesus wants to do in the people who should be doing the lifting?
The story of the paralyzed man and his friends is found in three of the gospels. Mark and Luke specify that the event took place in a house that had people out the door and the paralyzed man’s friends are so determined to bring him to Jesus that they tear open the roof of the house and lower him down. However, in all three stories, it’s the friends’ faith that Jesus praises and then leads him to forgive and heal the man. But one detail we can’t forget is the willingness of the man himself to be lifted; at some point, he admitted that he could not get to Jesus by himself. He needed them. And he depended on them to do the lifting.
It’s usually easier to be the lifter than the one who is lifted. Often the hardest thing to do is to allow ourselves to be lifted—to allow others to pray for us, to be there with us, to serve us, to help us, to know where we are weak. But it’s in the lifting that Jesus grows not only the faith of the lifted but the faith of the lifters, those who love us and want to help. It’s the lifting that raises the roof.
On Today's Road: In what area of life are you finding you’re unable to lift yourself right now? What weakness are you refusing to admit or be helped? Who do you need to allow to lift you? Who has God put in your life who needs to be lifted?