Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Matthew 9:2-7 -- On Healing and Suffering

"And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.
And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth.
And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?
For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
And he arose, and departed to his house."
Matthew 9:2-7

Here's another instance where Jesus forgave sins.  In this case, it was surprising to people because he had obvious physical infirmity.  And maybe we get into this same mind set sometimes.  We ask for physical relief, when what we *truly* need is spiritual relief.  This man was also healed physically later in the selection, which Christ likely intended from the beginning, but did in this way to illustrate a lesson for the scribes (and perhaps for us too)... that the spiritual healing is the more difficult issue, and also the more important.

God's perspective is so different from ours.  Sometimes we look around and the world and we wonder how a benevolent and caring God could allow so much suffering.  And truly, he loves us all and he wants to help.  From his perspective though, as our father, we need opposition in order to grow.  We can't learn joy unless we also learn sorrow.  We can't learn triumph and self-mastery unless we also experience some failure and lack of self-control, and then build on those mistakes and learn how to avoid them.

God is an eternal being without the mortal limitations to his perspective that we have.  It is abundantly clear to him that spiritual issues are more important than physical ones.  For us though, that is really hard to see, and so sometimes we still blame him for physical things, when he is helping with spiritual things instead.  If we are currently experiencing it, it might makes us angry to think about the death of a loved one helping us learn something, or a serious health issue helping a family learn to pull together and love each other more.  I know that financial difficulty or job loss can feel like betrayal, and trying to remain calm and trust God in any of these situation is very difficult.  But I also think that God is being as kind and as loving and as supportive as we allow him to be.  When we go to him, he explains things to us.  It isn't always what we want to hear, but ALL things work together for our good (Romans 8:28 and others), not just the things that we want to happen.

Today, let's remember that God knows the end from the beginning.  He knows what we all need, and he knows how to help us.  Let's trust him, and talk to him, and learn of and from him.  As we do, our bitterness will drain away, and we will realize that God really is there for every one of us, and that the afterlife that God promises will be more than worth every moment we go through in this life, good or bad.  God is willing to save us, and planning to do so... physically as well as spiritually.  Let's have the patience and faith to get there.

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