Mark 2:1-12 (NIV)
Some men came, bringing to [Jesus] a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Vs. 3
Have you ever heard someone say, “You just need to pray through.” I have, on a number of occasions. The context was either a Pentecostal church or Charismatic gathering. It used to bother me a lot, mostly because I never really knew what it meant. I knew it was about praying for something that made complete spiritual sense (usually) but nothing seemed to be moving in the direction we were asking God to move.
Our text today is about bringing a person who was in need of a healing touch from Jesus, but the obstacles were many and there seemed to be no way to get their friend to Jesus. I can only imagine what the others must have thought when one of them came up with the idea to tear a hole in the roof and lower their friend in front of Jesus. But that is exactly what they did. We read of Jesus response. He honoured the faith of the four friends, and he ministered to the man.
There are times when believers are so broken, so stressed, so anxious, feeling too sinful to ever reach out to Jesus. Those are the times that we need our brothers and sisters to pray for us. That is the time when we need to put on our spiritual hard hats and go to work. Sadly, many times we sit and surmise what is spiritually wrong with our friend. What is needed is the willingness to struggle through the spiritual battle ground and find a way to touch the Saviour that loves us so much.
I think this is what it means to “pray through.” When the slugging gets hard, when the answers don’t seem to come, when prayers seem to hit the ceiling and bounce back at us, we do not give up, but keep on praying. When these four friends decided to do what needed to be done and not give up, Jesus honoured them by first forgiving the man’s sins and then he healed the man’s body and as he walked out for all of the people to see, he gave testimony to the person and power of Jesus.
One thing I will not do is make light of people who are called to “pray through.” And when they invite me to join them, I am glad to put my spiritual hard hat on and go to work.
Lord give me faith to believe and the tenacity to not give up in prayer. Lord count me in to be someone who is willing to pray through and to see your glory revealed to the world. Amen.
Psalm 23:4 (NIV)
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Everyone will eventually experience a dark valley in their life. For Christians it is a time they sense their need for Jesus, the good shepherd. This psalm speaks of the shepherd who leads us to comfortable, peaceful places. He takes us to places to restore our souls and to pour over us his love and blessing. When we face disappointment or devastating issues Jesus comes as our protector and comforter, as the great good shepherd.
When the doctor told my mother, she had two weeks left to live she did not cry or fall into depression. She was sure of who her good shepherd was and stood confident in her faith that had already carried her through many trials and concerns. She told me, “I’m not going to cry because I am going home to heaven.” A lifetime of Christian upbringing, reading the Word, hearing messages of truth, had given her an unshakable foundation. All of the foundation was built on the Word of God.
When we enter the darkest valleys of illness, loss, uncertainty like covid-19 and other struggles we can find strength and assurance in God’s word. Psalms like the 23rd psalm can bring much comfort and hope. We have a blessed assurance that God is with us and cares for us. THERE IS NO NEED FOR FEAR.
Father keep my heart and mind fixed on you. Allow your word to comfort my heart and bring peace to life in a chaotic world. Thank you for the assurance of your word. Amen.
Matthew 5:14 (NIV) [Jesus said] “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Mwanza is the second largest city in Tanzania and sits on the south shore of Lake Victoria. It was always advised that we not travel at night due to robbers setting up roadblocks and then attacking while you tried to get through the blockage. On a trip to another city the orphanage administrator and I ran into a little problem. The steel belted radial tires had begun to come apart and we ended up with a flat tire. There were actually 14 punctures in the inner tube. It took some time to repair. Our final leg of the trip back home was going to be well after dark. After more than an hour of somewhat intense driving I finally saw the lights of Mwanza City on the horizon. Even though we still had a distance to travel the sight of those lights brought a sense of comfort knowing we were getting close. Close to home.
Our real home is not here, it’s in heaven. Jesus won that home for each of us by dying and rising. His death paid for our sins; his resurrection proved that the debt was paid and that the gift has eternal value. Jesus is the light of the world and continues to show the way to an eternal home prepared for all who believe.
In our present situation in the world many people are worried and uncertain of the future and yet they wander in spiritual darkness with no idea of how to get home. Jesus declares that we are the light of the world. Our lives can be the very light that leads them home. As people see us being kind, compassionate, forgiving, honest, fair, humble, confident, etc., they get a chance to “see” Jesus’ love in action. That, in turn, may open up a chance for us to tell someone about Jesus. And that may be the time when God works faith in that person’s heart, putting them on the road … to their heavenly home. The troubled times we live in now may well be filled with opportunities to be a “light on a hill.”
Jesus, forgive me for failing to let my light of faith shine as clearly as it should. Often my light is shrouded by sin. Forgive me! Use me to shine brightly, that others might come to know your love, and finally be brought home with you in heaven. Amen.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. -Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
Have you ever done something that consumed your thought life? Usually it is when we are trying to push away any unwanted outcomes. Maybe it is about finances, a bad investment or bad decision. Sometimes it is about a comment that may have negative results. Often, if not always, we move to the place of worry. “What if,” starts to dominate our lives. Sometimes we even get physically sick wondering what might happen. The sad reality is that worry accomplishes nothing. Even when we know this reality we battle against worry.
The bible tells us to cast all of our cares upon him (Ps. 55:22). Jesus in his teaching in the Sermon on the Mount makes the same statement and enforces the emptiness and uselessness of worry. Tomorrow will come what may and each day has enough trouble of its own.
Worry steals our strength and energy physically and our joy spiritually. It is like being in a never-ending battle and I believe it is a battle with the devil. The devil uses this strategy to keep us away from focusing on Jesus.
Remember as we approach the celebration of Easter that Jesus died for all of our sin, including bad decisions, bad investments, etc. When we trust that God will take care of us, then we have the energy for other things like helping people around us. When we begin to minister to others, we begin to win the battle against the devil, the great liar and the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy (Jn. 10:10).
Jesus, thank you for being there when hard things and the bad things come our way. Help us to rest our minds and hearts so that we can experience your love for us and in turn love others as well.