The Word of God contains the answer to every question man can entertain if it is applied personally to the reader. We don’t always like the answers, but more likely than not, the answer is more merciful than we often fear it will be. We sometimes uncover deep psychological problems, which affect our lives, while understanding the stories of the people. Christ teaches us as He walks among the people healing and telling parables.
We can read a story many, many times before it finally sinks into our heart what Jesus is saying to us individually. This was the case for me when studying the story of the paralytic described in Matthew and Mark.
In the story the paralytic and the friends who helped him reach Jesus, by digging a hole through the roof into the room where He was teaching, were rewarded for their faith. [Mark 2:5 “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”] Jesus knew the teachers of the law in the audience were thinking that He was committing blasphemy by His statement. So he said to them in Mark 2:8-10, 8)”Why are you thinking these things? 9)Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk?’ 10)But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…'”
It took many times reading this story to realize, for many years, I had been a paralytic mentally. The trauma happened when I was very young. It was November of 1960. I was looking forward to my birthday on the 29th of the month. I was very excited because there was always a celebration combining my brother’s birthday on the 26th and mine. It always seemed grander when celebrating both together, than I believed it would have celebrating them separately.
Then it happened. On the evening of my brother’s eleventh birthday, our father suffered a heart attack. He lived until the morning of my ninth birthday and we were awakened by our oldest brother to tell us our world had changed forever.
I did not understand at the time it was common for all close survivors of someone who dies at a young age (my father was 44) to feel guilt in some way. I only knew, in my very young mind, it must have been because of some sin I had done, which offended God, and He was punishing me. On a deeper level (subconsciously) I related the feeling of joy to my father’s death. So I began to have a fear of joy which would rob me, of the wonderful gift of feeling true joy, throughout a great deal of my life.
You may be thinking, “How does this relate to the story of the paralytic?” This is how I believe it does: Jesus could see into the heart of the paralytic and knew while he was paralyzed all he had to think about was the sins throughout his life. He may have believed (as I did as a child) he was being punished by God. So Jesus let him know He could remove the sins, therefore removing any punishment he had imagined. As He instructed the man in Mark 2:11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home,” He allowed the man to go forward and tell the world of the miracle which happened to Him. He was no longer paralyzed by his physical condition or his sins haunting him.
Since that time I’ve had many losses. I no longer have any of my three biological siblings living. My mother has passed on as well. And my deepest losses have been two sons. But the joy of having had them in my life now overrides the grief of loss. The gift of memory brings the ability to relive those moments of happiness and love bringing joy into my life long after they’ve been gone.
The story of the paralytic may apply to other fears I’ve had. But the greatest release I’ve felt is the freedom of believing Christ died for my sins and that is the greatest Love. And Love is the greatest conqueror of fear.
© Phyllis Weeks Rogers 10/23/2018