This last Sunday, the sermon was about the account of Jesus healing the paralytic that was lowered through the ceiling into the midst of an over-populated house. Our pastor spoke about the faith of the four friends that brought the quadriplegic and the interesting response of Christ: "Son, your sins are forgiven." (Mark 2)
I've grown up in the church. I've read the three gospel accounts of this story innumerable times. But this time, for some reason, my mind wandered to the paralytic, himself. The accounts of this miracle don't say hardly anything about the man who was healed, other than that when Jesus told him to get up and walk, he got up, picked up his mat and went home.
But what happened in his heart when Jesus told him his sins were forgiven? Was he relieved? Or was he confused? It doesn't say that it was on account of his faith that he was forgiven and healed. In fact, the only reason he was healed was because Jesus wanted to show the Pharisees that He had the authority to forgive sins. What if the Pharisees hadn't accused Him of blasphemy? Would the paralytic have been healed physically?
I realize these are all speculative questions, but in my head I can't help thinking that when this disabled man was brought to Jesus, maybe he was hoping for physical restoration and not for his sins to be forgiven.
Regardless of how this man felt when Jesus said that, the point is that God was ultimately glorified by both Jesus' forgiveness of this man's sins as well as the healing of his physical body. And in the greater picture, that Jesus knew what this man truly needed above all else. He didn't need physical restoration. He needed-- desperately-- to be pardoned. For the blood stains of his sins to be removed. He needed Jesus.
I wonder what the paralytic would have said he needed.
That line between needs and wants is awfully thin sometimes. It's easy to look at the paralytic's life and think, "Well, obviously he needed to be pardoned for his sin." But when it comes to our own lives, do we value our need for forgiveness above our desire for better circumstances?
How often do I look at my life and think of my actual needs? How often do I worry about money? How often do I worry about the future?
In my head I think that I need to fix our situation. I think about all of the dollar signs in our future, I think about insurance, I think about our desire for adoption and raising a family. I think about starting our life in Western Europe. I think about our dreams of opening a hostel (something akin to L'Abri) on a small farm.... All of these things have been incessantly hovering over me.
But hold on. When has the Lord ever failed me? It's amazing to me how tempting it can be to find my own solutions to my own anticipated problems. It amazes me how after nothing but faithfulness from my God, I can still think in my head and in my heart that I might have needs that will not be met.
Sometimes things pop up in life that seem like solutions to our needs. Sometimes we come before the Lord to tell Him we "need" something, and walk away with "Child, your greatest need has already been met. You have been forgiven. Now you need to focus on me. " (see Matthew 6: 25-34 (Ironically, Matthew 6:33 is BibleGateway.com's verse of the day, today.) )
To be honest, a lot of times that's not the answer I was looking for. A lot of times that answer disappoints me because I want answers. I want to not have to just trust.
But I don't need answers.
So my question to myself is: when God gives me what I need, will I rejoice regardless of whether or not my wants are met? I would hope so. I think Louisa Stead said it eloquently when she wrote:
Yes, 'tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
I would hope that as time goes on, I will find I can sing the last verse of that song, too.
I'm so glad I learned to trust thee,