In one of my favorite stories in the Bible, four men carried a paralytic to Jesus.
When He entered Capernaum again after some days, it was reported that He was at home. So many people gathered together that there was no more room, not even in the doorway, and He was speaking the word to them. They came to Him bringing a paralytic, carried by four of them. Since they were not able to bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and after digging through it, they lowered the mat on which the paralytic was lying. Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:1-5
The beauty of this story is more than just the miracle of physical healing–it is a picture of true compassion. In a world that is often unkind, our words can have a powerful impact–they can do great harm or bring a boatload encouragement.
Action, however, goes a step further in offering hope.
Here’s where I am. While there are endless opportunities to demonstrate compassion, we live in a strange time where new boundaries have been erected and physical and emotional barriers loom large. I have seen lonely seniors crying for family to come see them. Weddings are postponed and the grief at funerals is multiplied because loved ones are excluded. My own mother declared, “Life isn’t worth living if I can’t see my family!”
So where does one find the balance between reckless and neglectful? Love compels us to serve, to love, and to be the hands and feet of Jesus. And right now the world is telling us to stop. I hear the crowd saying that isolation, separation, and seclusion is the way to demonstrate compassion, but my heart tells me something different. I know it is not my imagination running wild when I see the strategy of the enemy.
“Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
The friends in this story didn’t fear the crowd. They didn’t give up when it looked impossible. And they didn’t shy away from doing something that was difficult and costly (tearing the roof open).
Bringing their friend to Jesus meant a paralytic was healed ( verses 10-12). But it also meant that while God provided the miracle, he used ordinary men to be a catalyst for something not-so-ordinary. I can’t help but be encouraged and challenged by this story. It moves me to step out of my comfort zone and to live boldly.
This is so much more than a crowd standing in the way of what God wants to do. My God is Sovereign. He knows and He sees, and He is not idle! While we see the enemy causing division, God calls His people to unite. When our adversary plants fear, the All-Powerful One calls for bold faith. Separating families and congregations and friends, satan’s goal is to destroy anything that is good, true and right–and he knows that we are stronger together than we are alone. When we are united as the body of Christ, the dominion of the enemy is threatened. (James 4)
I am not sure what that looks like for me, or for you, but I do know that if God wants to do something extraordinary with my simple obedience, then I don’t want to miss it. It might mean patience while I wait for God’s timing. I do know that God is always at work and so I am praying for Him to open my eyes and guide my steps so that I will be willing to do whatever it takes.
“First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4