There is a price that comes with good health – Responsibility. When we’re sick or crippled, we have an excuse to bum and let other people do the hard work for us. While we don’t live to the fullest, we may be able to get along quite comfortably with that chip on the shoulder. And yet we bellyache about our state of health. We claim to want healing -but actually, we are quite smug in our illness. And so we prefer our broken state to becoming truly healthy and well, because if we did recover, we would have to do everything for our selves. We would have to take up full responsibility.
Jesus healed a man who had been blind since birth (Jn 9). This man has always earned his living by begging at the temple gates. But after he regained his sight, he can’t beg anymore. He has to earn a proper living. And what of the paralytic who was lowered in a stretcher into a crowded house so that Jesus might heal him (Mk 2:1-12)? He was healed, and was asked to “stand up, take up your stretcher and go home!” The stretcher upon which he used to lie on has now become his responsibility to carry. What about the adulteress whom the Pharisees brought to Jesus to be stoned (Jn 8:1-11)? After nobody dared to throw the first stone (for Jesus had asked that the one without sin be the first to throw a stone), Jesus had turned to her and said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now, and sin no more.” Receiving forgiveness and healing require that we change our lives and turn away from the old sinful ways that cripple and blind us from truth and love.
If we are honest with ourselves, we may find that there are old habits that we are so comfortable with that we do not wish to give up. And so our desire for God’s healing touch is lukewarm at best… we say, “Lord, heal me! But please let me continue to indulge in my bad habits/addictions, or keep a sinful relationship, or let me keep a friendship that is no good for me…” How would we be different from the lung cancer patient who continues puffing away even while undergoing chemotherapy? How can we be healed?
We human beings are funny creatures. We often prefer a known misery to the unknown good. Hence we fear change. Even when we know that our lives are in disorder and that our current state is an unhealthy one, we are reluctant to give up the very burdens that are crushing our spirit and poisoning our soul.
Our Good Shepherd came not only that we may have life, but that we may have it to the full (Jn 10:10). Why is it that we sometimes prefer to keep a limp that prevents us from bounding beside Him in joy?
Do we really wish to give up our burdens? Do we really want to have life to the fullest? Are we willing to embrace with open arms life with all its mysteries both sorrowful and joyful? Perhaps before we come to God for healing, we need to first be honest with ourselves. Are we ready to pay the price for health? Are we willing to stop blaming others for our unhappiness and to accept full responsibility for our lives?
I believe that God’s invitation is always open. His question is always simple – “Do you trust me?” And it is when we open our tight fisted hands in surrender that we give up everything, and find that in doing so, we already possess all we ever need.
Lord, I pray for all who, like me, are struggling to let go of the burdens that are crippling them. It is strange indeed how attached we can become to the very things that hurt us and keep us from living our lives to the full.
Please help us to have the courage to be honest with You and with ourselves about where we are, and what we need. And please give us grace to overcome the bonds of sin in our life that we may desire true healing and deliverance. Help us, please, to desire to live in the genuine freedom that a loving and responsible life brings.
Lord, help us to long for your mercy, for truly, we are in dire need of it. Amen.