"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" Mark 2:4 (NIV).
I started my day listening to Matt Redman's song, 10,000 Reasons. (If you're not familiar with it, do yourself a favor, take a moment to listen and allow his words to flow over you!) This song is emotionally packed; I haven't been able to listen to it for several years. You see, in October 2013, my husband, Bob, lay in a coma due to a traumatic brain injury, he teetered at death's door for six months. During that time, as I drove to the hospital each day, I would listen to the songwriter's poignant prayer-song:
The sun comes up
It's a new day dawning
It's time to sing your song again
Whatever may pass
And whatever lies before me
Let me be singing
When the evening comes*
When life is easy, who can't sing God's praises and bless him at the end of the day? (Yet, how many times have I missed this opportunity when life is good?) But to praise God when tragedy befalls, that's a supernatural gift. I wanted to believe the words in the song. But where was God? Why did he allow this to happen to us? I felt abandoned. Everything I thought or taught was being tested. Did I really believe what I claimed to believe? I groaned in despair. I wanted to trust God like Job, who said, "Though the Lord slay me, yet will I trust him" (Job 13:15). I pleaded with God to help me remain true, but my faith seemed vacant. I wanted to give up. Yet, that inner voice echoed back, "Where would you go? To whom would you turn?"
In the story of the paralyzed man, from the Gospel of Mark chapter 2, his friends knew that no matter what it took, the only solution for him was to get him to see Jesus. So they hoisted him up on the roof, and then dug through the mud and straw, making sure the hole was large enough so they could maneuver their friend down through the roof and into the room to present him to Jesus. It was no easy task! The Scripture doesn't say the paralyzed man said or did anything, other than lie there, and then after Jesus healed him, he got up and walked away.
As I listened to that song today, it occurred to me that I had been like the paralyzed man in Mark 2:4, I was "down for the count," my faith was paralyzed. Unbeknownst to Matt Redman (whom I've never met), during those dark days his prayer-song helped me to see Jesus. But closer to home, it was our family and friends who helped us see Jesus, through their companionship and prayers for healing, or the many meals that were lovingly prepared and delivered, or the family and friends who sat with Bob to give me respite, or the sending of cards of love and encouragement (sometimes with gas cards or money tucked inside, sent just when we needed it most). All these gracious gifts of mercy have helped our family remember that we are not forgotten, we are loved by God and them! I realize now my groanings of despair were prayers the Spirit understood and prayed in my behalf when I was unable to do so (Romans 8:26). God proved he was faithful; he did not let me go!
I am learning that we may sometimes feel like the paralyzed man with 10,000 reasons not to get up---to remain paralyzed. But God promises his children that he will never leave us or forsake us. God will use our suffering to conform us into the likeness of his beloved son (Romans 8:29). And like the paralyzed friend who could do nothing about his situation, we too must sometimes wait for God to intervene until his will is accomplished. Other times, even though it might not be easy or convenient, God will use us to be the friend who takes our "paralyzed friend" to see Jesus, to give him 10,000 reasons to get back up.
Jesus willingly laid down his life, to be presented to the Father, to rescue us! Jesus chose to go to the cross for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2). What was that joy? To present his beloved children, whole and complete before the Father, to be prepared for life in his Kingdom---here and now---and eventually for life in a new Heaven and a new Earth! This gives us hope, and the joyful assurance that God is working out his plan; we do not walk alone. Jesus said, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
Lord, God, help us to be faithful to you in whatever role you allow us to be in, whether it be the friend in need, or the friend who sees a need and brings that friend to Jesus. Help us look to you, so when the end of life draws near, we can keep on singing for ten thousand years, and then forevermore! Amen.
Copyright 2016 / 2021 Sarah A. Keith
2021 update on my husband: Despite what the doctors initially told us, that Bob might never walk, talk, or understand anything ever again, he continues to improve and is getting better at communicating. His ability to understand is ahead of his ability to speak. More and more when I ask him to do something, he understands right away, or I might have to repeat it a few times. Unlike before, instructions or comments required hand motions, pointing, drawing pictures, and writing words, (which he didn't necessarily understand anyway) for him to get it, yet he continues to improve. In fact, just the other day he wrote two words on the grocery list, "bread" and "meat." He is also beginning to use longer sentences and sometimes can correct himself when I ask him to repeat a word or phrase. His healing is painfully slow. Whether God heals him completely on this side of Heaven is uncertain; I sure hope so. I know God is up to something beyond what I can see or understand. However, there are many days that I don't grasp this truth and I grow discouraged, frustrated, and feel worn out. Bob also gets depressed about his situation (who wouldn't?). He often says, "What happened to me? What's wrong?"
Please pray for us to remain faithful to our Lord, to be strengthened physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and to trust God to work out his plan in our lives. Thank you for all those who faithfully pray for us and for supporting our ministry here at SundaySchoolNetwork.com!
Your sister in Christ,
Sarah Keith <><
*Songwriters: Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman
Published by Lyrics--Copyright EMI Music Publishing
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