Problems come in all shapes and sizes, and no one has a hardship immunity. Like many people reading this, I’ve had family members (including myself) and loved ones fighting for their lives from cancer, covid, and other serious or hopeless conditions. Hardships can be a bad physical situation, mental, or even a relational situation, and there’s no way they’ve been able to break free. At times in life, we experience problems that require much more than God and us alone. Sometimes we need little help from our friends. In Mark 2:3-14, we see that same event playing out with Jesus in the flesh. This blessed man had some amazing friends willing to do what it takes to help, and that is what made the difference in a hopeless situation.
Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them.Mark 2:3
God can do anything, but sometimes we aren’t positioned to receive the answer to our prayer. Our blockage might not be a prohibiting crowd, but something less visible. Maybe we are inhibited by thoughts that God isn’t real, that he’s angry and loves to punish and condemn us. Maybe we are angry at God. Many of us feel guilty or unworthy to receive anything from him. Sometimes we need the help of others to bring us to a place to touch Jesus. Mental and emotional issues can cripple and separate us from getting close enough to Jesus to receive our miracles. The man in Mark 2 had no way of approaching Jesus, but his friends got together to creatively overcome obstacles to get him in a position to get his miracle.
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
Sometimes faith requires work. This man had great friends who carried him to the house where Jesus was preaching. The crowds filled and spilled out of the house, preventing their entry. They tried to push, plead, and pay, to penetrate that crowd, but no one would let them through. These friends wouldn’t be deterred or sit in the street covered in ashes of self-pity, but they regrouped. After discussing many ideas, someone suggested the roof. They then had to climb the roof, find the perfect lowering location, carefully remove the roof pieces, figure how to heave their paralyzed friend onto the roof, and then rig it up to safely lower him down. Even jeers and judgemental looks from the crowd didn’t deter them from bringing their friend to Jesus for a miracle. We all need those friends.
… faith without works is dead also.James 2:26
Being that Friend
I recently had the honor of being that friend to two loved ones, fighting for their lives with Covid. Both in ICU, one was on a ventilator. When it looked hopeless, I found ways in my faith to work around the doubts and fears that crowded my mind. Many of us got together collectively, bringing our friends to Jesus in prayer. We pushed for days to breach the packed doorway to healing. Nothing budged. We persevered using all of the hope and faith we could muster to fight conventional, non-miracle thinking. Pushing through doubt and weakness to climb the roof, dig a hole through the darkness, and bring them to the foot of Jesus in prayer. We didn’t give up, and today we are experiencing the miracle. When we work to get to God, it demonstrates and strengthens our faith and moves God’s hand.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”Mark 2:5
It’s This Easy?
We can so easily get used to a bad situation. This man and his friends had prayed and tried many unsuccessful solutions; that’s why they were desperate. They even made failed attempts to get into the house. They had to procure supplies and ignore the jeering crowd to find the solution. Their solution was a huge undertaking that may have lasted days. Jesus spoke two sentences, and it was done. Sometimes we don’t receive, because the battle has been so long, and it’s so difficult to believe the solution can be that easy. God can answer a desperate situation in a snap. Just because we’ve struggled with something for years doesn’t God struggles with the answer.
“I tell you, get up, take your mat, and go home.” He got up, took his mat, and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!Mark 2:11-12
NOTE: There’s a difference between working for salvation and working for faith. We can never get to heaven by doing good works. There is no amount of work we can do to get to heaven, or Jesus wouldn’t have had to suffer and die in place for our sins. There is work in faith by pushing through and past our doubts, shortcomings, and insecurities to get our miracle. If you haven’t received Jesus’ sacrifice for your failings, guilt, and sin, it’s so very easy, acknowledge your need and his provision. It’s the best decision you will ever make.
Carry one another burdens and in this way, you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love].Galatians 6:2