When Jesus Doesn't Say "Rise"
On Sunday, Pastor Ty taught through Jesus’ healing of a paralyzed man:
And getting into a boat [Jesus] crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.” And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, “Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. – Matthew 9:1-7
On that day, the man’s entire life changed as he received complete physical and spiritual healing. But what do we do when Jesus forgives our sins, but we still can’t rise and walk? What do we do when Jesus doesn’t heal the one problem that causes us so much pain?
Last summer, I graduated from college and started applying to PhD programs. I wanted to turn my love for research into a career. My parents, friends, and most importantly, my professors, assured me that I would be accepted into great programs. They told me I was made for the academic life! But then, something unexpected happened: I got rejection letter after rejection letter. When I received the final letter, I knew all my hope rested in its contents. My hands shook. Through shaky vision, I opened the letter and saw the word “regret.” I knew it was over—I would not be attending graduate school in the fall. I doubled over and cried, feeling devastated and ashamed. Everything I trusted in had let me down.
As each letter arrived, I begged Jesus to give me just one acceptance, thinking that achieving my dream would be my greatest good. When it didn’t happen, I quite literally could not rise and walk. I laid in bed and wept, unable to imagine a future without graduate school.
Through my time of agony, I had others reminding me of God’s goodness, and a friend who carried me on a stretcher into God’s presence and reminded me to fix my eyes on Him. In His graciousness, the Lord taught me that He satisfies our greatest need first: our need to be made right with Him and to live in His presence. While I thought I needed to be healed of my grief over my failed dream, Jesus knew that what I really needed was Him. Everything else was secondary. We learn this when we read carefully the paralytic man’s story. Jesus’ first act is not to heal the man, but to forgive his sins, allowing him to be made right with God.
This world is filled with pain—broken relationships, physical ailments, disappointed hopes. In every struggle, Jesus sees us, loves us, and works towards our greatest good in us: that we would become more like Him as we look towards His return and the total restoration He will bring.
Join me in praying for our church: Lord, we pray that we would fix our eyes on you. Remind us that You provide us with everything we need. Help us to become the kind of people who carry others into Your presence so that they can experience true healing that is only found in You. Let peace reign in our hearts as we believe that You are good, and you satisfy our greatest need.
Rachael Heinsen is a recent graduate of UCI with a degree in English. She loves hiking, reading, and all things chocolate. Rachael feels called to higher education, but is currently in a season of rest, excited for all Jesus has for her.