She who limps still walks.
Those were words I read on a Facebook meme last week. I saved the meme to my phone, because they remind me my limp isn’t keeping me from walking – or even standing. It’s keeping me from doing a lot of things I want and need to do, but hey, I’m still upright. Still walking. Still striving … even if I’m not thriving.
I’ve had a slight limp, off and on, for about four and a half years. For the past three and a half months, it’s been more than slight, very painful, and mysterious. I’ve been to chiropractors, physical therapists, a neurologist, and my primary care physician. None have told me what’s wrong, for certain.
“Perhaps a pinched nerve”, one said.
The others have said nerve tension, muscle weakness, misalignment of the spine, muscle tightness, spasticity, hip flexor issues, rotated pelvis …
I go to physical therapy, but I don’t know why. The therapists are attempting to treat a condition they haven’t yet identified. It’s a guessing game and I’m their guinea pig. They try one thing – maybe stretching, then another – maybe strengthening. And I’m always going home with a compression brace, resistance band, or some other PT tool that has the potential to get me running like Forrest Gump, or better yet, Michael Johnson.
Life isn’t actually like a box of chocolates (unpredictable, yes, delicious, no).
It’s more akin to a bunch of sour grapes, at times.
In the first few chapters of Mark, Jesus ministers to many by healing them of their sicknesses and casting out their demons. Then He forgives someone of their sins without healing their physical troubles. The crowd cheered loudly at each healing, but when He jumped from healing to saying presumably crazy things like “your sins are forgiven”, some whispered in their hearts …
“Who does He think He is telling people their sins are forgiven? Blasphemy!”
It’s always been acceptable to make a limping person run again, but as soon as sin is brought up and dealt with, the complaints come. Human nature doesn’t change much over time. For instance, in today’s world, it’s common to cry for “free” healthcare all around, but also common to push for the acceptance of almost any sexual deviation known to mankind.
Heal us, but don’t correct us, Lord.
Make us walk again. But don’t touch our sin. Leave it be. We don’t need forgiving. We need health and wealth in the here and now. These are the attitudes we put out, and yet Jesus refuses to leave us there. Sometimes, He leaves our need for physical healing alone, yet heals us spiritually. Many times, He uses our physical ailments to draw us to Himself, as a tool for us to sense that we are indeed immortal, slowly dying, human beings whose bodies will one day perish, which often leads to questions about our spiritual state. Interestingly enough, in Mark, Jesus healed the paralytic after He forgave his sins so that those watching had no question as to whether the Son of Man had authority on earth to forgive sins.
Jesus has already forgiven my sins, but I’ve been chronically ill for most of my life. There has been some healing along the way, but the last seventeen years have especially been a slow but steady decline. Five years ago, I was walking like a champ. Seventeen years ago, I ate a normal diet. Way, way back … forty years ago, my heart beat with a steady thump, thump, thump.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, says the Psalmist. Also complex, if I may add a thought. And though scientists have made great strides in knowing and treating the human body, much of the machine that envelops our spirits is still a mystery.
I am a mystery.
Most of my health issues have taken years to diagnose. I typically suffer for a long, long while before doctors even take note, let alone diagnose me, probably because I’ve contracted serious, debilitating, yet invisible diseases as a young person. “You look so healthy” is a phrase I often hear.
Where physical suffering is concerned, there isn’t always an explanation, and healing doesn’t always come. But our main need – our main sickness – isn’t physical anyway. It’s spiritual. And the Good News is that there is always a cure for our spiritual sickness, all for the humbling of ourselves and asking. Like the paralytic sinner, we cannot heal ourselves. It takes a miracle to heal us physically, however that may come, and it takes an already-performed miracle to heal us spiritually, the only Way that could possibly come: through the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus. Believing in those events, and trusting in Jesus to cleanse us from our unrighteousness spiritually heals us.
Whether I’m physically standing is an issue, but it is not my biggest issue. Whether I’m spiritually standing is everything. Ephesians 6 talks about putting on the whole armor of God, so that we may stand. Here are a few phrases from that passage:
Be strong in the Lord.
Put on the whole armor that you may be able to stand.
Take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.
Stand therefore …
Though I strive every day to stand physically, my deeper need is to stand spiritually. That’s hard when your heart is weak, your stomach is paralyzed, your bones hurt, your muscles don’t always work correctly. Your emotional and mental state suffer right along with your physical state, and it can all lead to spiritual weakness … faltering … falling.
Pray that it not be so with me. I pray that it not be so with you. As Christians, we must stand. But we should take heart. For His Word tells us He will hold us fast (Ps. 139:10). That it is God who works in us, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13).
And my favorite …
That He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6).
Thank God standing spiritually doesn’t solely depend on me. I must stand. But He will hold me fast.