In Mark 2 and Luke 5, there is a story of Jesus healing a paralytic. A paralyzed man is brought by four friends to Jesus. Only the crowds were so great in number that the four friends decided to climb up on the roof, with their friend on a stretcher, dig through the roof and lower him down right in front of Jesus.
Whatever it takes.
This was the attitude they shared as they determined to bring their friend to healing.
My mom is a paralytic. I’m pretty sure she trusts me more than anyone else in her life. She also loves Jesus. I can’t imagine what her response would be if I said:
“Hey mom, Jesus is in town and we need to get you to him because He can heal you. Only there are too many people for us to push you through, so I’ve brought 3 friends and we’re going to carry you up on the roof with this stretcher, dig a hole in the roof and just lower you down.”
Somehow, I have a feeling she would hesitate.
We know from the mouth of Jesus Himself, these friends had tremendous faith. They knew if they could just get their buddy to Jesus, he would be healed. The paralytic either had the same measure of faith in Jesus, or at the very least, a confidence so solid in these friends that he could be authentic and completely vulnerable.
Last week, I heard someone say, true healing happens in the context of community. We need the love, support and encouragement of true friends who are willing to take us to Jesus, especially when we can’t get there ourselves. This passage challenges me to consider, what kind of friend am I? Do I give my friends a sense of safety that they could entrust their lives to should it become necessary? It also begs us to ask in our most trying and difficult seasons, am I humble enough to receive the help I need?
From another perspective, when someone in our community is suffering and there doesn’t seem to be a tangible way to help, how do we come around them? Four people bringing a friend to Jesus can be done through the simple and profound gift of prayer.
When a mother is suffering the insurmountable grief of losing a child.
When a marriage seems to be without hope for restoration.
When a person’s addiction appears to be a slow death in process.
I confess there are times when I’ve prayed for someone when I’ve thought there was nothing else I could do. But I’m learning not to dismiss the power of prayer as a last resort. I would rather go directly to the King of King’s and pray with the full assurance of faith seen in this story. What if we viewed prayer in times of desperation as a call to become a stretcher bearer? What if we saw the work of prayer, bringing someone we love to the feet of Jesus as greater than scaling the walls of any building?