It’s the dead of winter. The leaves are gone, the grass is covered by a mixture of ice and snow, and the sky holds a consistent tone of gray. The outside world is quieter.
My soul knows this season well—when life sucks me dry and I look around and wonder where the joy of salvation has gone. The flowers aren’t blooming, the birds aren’t chirping. My soul is quiet, almost passive aggressive. Maybe it’s the circumstances or maybe it’s just my stubborn human nature refusing to see God’s gifts tucked into each and every day. (There’s always a reason to rejoice). In these times, I want to curl up in a hole, watch some good chick flicks, eat a tub of ice cream, and expect everything to just work out. It doesn’t work that way. Turns out, you can’t eat and watch your way to happiness. In fact, it does just the opposite (hello, five pounds! Where did you come from?) Anyway…
What do you do when you can’t find joy? When you don’t want to be around people? When your problems seems bigger than your Savior? And when your temporary solutions only remind you of how unhappy you actually are?
Let people in.
It’s not my first choice, or even my second. But it seems like in those times when I don’t want anyone, God has two or three people call to check on me or text me to make sure I’m not spiraling out of control (which I often am). With a little probing on their part, and a whole lotta honesty on mine, we get to the bottom of things. I am reminded of who I am and who God is. I’m given perspective. When I can’t find words to pray, they pray with me and for me. They understand when I don’t feel like talking to God, but they don’t allow me to wallow in that feeling, nor do they judge me for it. They take me to Jesus. They know He is my Only Hope. Deep down, I know He is too, but sometimes I can’t get to Him on my own.
Ever felt paralyzed?
“Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men.” Mark 2:3
These were four faithful friends. They shouldered the burden and got the man to Jesus. Sometimes we are in a position where it seems impossible to get to Jesus. We know He’s there, and we know He has the power to heal, but spiritually, we can’t get to Him on our own. There’s something in the way, be it our own inability or something outside of ourselves.
“And when they could not find how they might bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the housetop and let him down with his bed through the tiling into the midst before Jesus.” Luke 1:19
It wasn’t “easy” for these guys to help. It wasn’t convenient. It required persistence. It required creativity and out-of-the-ordinary solutions. How often do I stop at my first or second attempt to help a friend? How often do I cease to pray when I don’t see immediate results? Am I willing to get my hands dirty—break some tiles, spiritually speaking?
“When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, be of good cheer; your sins are forgiven you.’” Matthew 9:2
When Jesus saw their faith, He spoke to the paralyzed man.
Our faith is never in vain. The prayers offered, the tears shed on behalf of our friends, the endless phone calls, the encouraging letters—all examples of active faith, all examples of bringing them into contact with Him. When we choose to accept the call, to shoulder the burden, Jesus is moved to action. He responds to faith. We may not always see the results, but we can be sure God is pleased with our obedience. It is our duty to bring our brothers and sisters to Jesus—whatever the cost. The results are up to Him.
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9-10
Whose burdens are you shouldering today? What do you need to do to get your friend to Jesus? And, what’s holding you back?
[Oh, and to the paralytic: let others carry you. You won’t always be the strong one, and that’s okay. We could all benefit from an extra dose of humility. Trust that God is using His body to fill your needs. It is then that you become aware of your need for community and well up with gratitude for the God who provides it.]
Tune in tomorrow for Part 2 of this series: When Jesus Says What You Least Expect.