Two posts in less than a month? Wow. After my last post, a good friend of mine encouraged me to keep writing on the topic of Christian friendship. I was still struggling a little bit to figure out how to articulate what I wanted to say. Then last weekend I went to a concert/worship night put on by Page CXVI and Loud Harp. Latifah Phillips, of Page CXVI, was talking about how when we go through hard times, other believers, our community, can pick us up and help us through our struggles. She said she was reminded of the story in the Bible about when four friends carried their friend who was paralyzed to Jesus to heal him. He could not get there himself, so his friends literally carried him, cut a hole in the roof, and lowered him to Jesus. (Found in Mark chapter 2). As she was talking about this, I just couldn't shake the image. As my best friend (a singer-songwriter and lover of imagery) said, "What an amazing metaphor!" When we are paralyzed by something, we can rely on our friends to put us on their shoulders and carry us to Jesus.
Verse 5 of the passage says "When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.'" Not his faith, their faith! Sometimes we don't have the faith that we want. Life is hard, and sometimes even when we know God is in control, we struggle to fully believe it. That is when our friends' faith can carry us. The paralytic man probably struggled with believing what his friends were doing mattered. Once they got to the house, they couldn't even get through the crowd. If I'm this man, laying on mat carried by my friends, and we can't even get through the door, I wouldn't have much faith that I would be healed. But his friends persisted. They cut a hole in the roof and lowered him down to Jesus. They had faith, and their friend benefited from it. We all go through seasons of life, seasons of varying levels of faith and trusting in God. I would like to say my faith never wavers, but then I would only be lying. It's at those times when we need our close friends to carry us.
The beautiful thing about this metaphor is that we take turns being in the different roles. At times, we're the friends carrying our suffering friend on our shoulders, reminding them that Jesus is the answer. At other times, in the midst of our own suffering, we're the paralyzed friend. My strongest spiritual gift is mercy. I feel things, deeply. Jesus' command to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice almost comes as second nature to me. The idea of carrying someone on my shoulders is not a hard one for me to grasp; I literally feel their pain and can't help but want to help them out, support them, weep with them. What is hard? Letting others help me. I take on other people's problems and emotions, but I try to do it all alone. I watch the news of the sufferings in our country, and all over the world, I see the hurt in my own community, and sometimes, it's too much. I try to carry the weight of the world by myself and all I do is crumble. I've been blessed, however, with some amazing friends. My best friend in particular will shut off the television, distract me, and make sure I know, that I'm not alone. I have a small group of close friends who will ask me regularly how I'm doing, make sure I'm not taking on the problems of the world alone. I've come up with this saying, it's become almost like my motto: "I weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. Christian friendship means I don't have to do it alone."
I don't know what you're going through. Maybe it's a season of exciting things: a new relationship, a marriage, the birth of a child, an exciting trip planned, a career goal met, or a dream being discovered. Or maybe it's a season of hardship: broken relationships, the loss of a loved one, a milestone birthday that reminds you of what you haven't accomplished yet, the loss of a job, or being at a job that makes you miserable. Maybe the current political climate is just too much, and you feel scared to live your daily life based on your race, gender, or opinions. Whatever your season is right now, you aren't alone. Jesus promises he will never leave us nor forsake us. He is always with us. And the great thing? He doesn't stop there. He puts people in our lives who help us celebrate the exciting times and walk with us through the hard times. Sometimes, they even carry us.
Christ-Follower. Writer. Caffeine-addict.