Lenten Devotional (Day 4) - When You Find Yourself On the Mat
Updated: Feb 24
Saturday, February 20 - Scripture: Mark 2:1-17
As we flip over to chapter 2 in Mark’s Gospel we encounter another healing story of Jesus. It is clear that part of Mark’s agenda in putting together his Gospel is to reinforce the fact that the kingdom of God of which Jesus inaugurates in his incarnation, is one in which healing and wholeness is available for all.
This particular encounter both echoes what we have read up to this point, but also is unique in that it involves a community. As I read this story of friends, so committed and desperate to get their paralyzed friend an audience with Jesus, that they literally tore a hole in the roof to lower him to Jesus, I’m reminded of the people in my life with whom have carried me when I find myself “on the mat” and those I likewise have the privilege of carrying to Jesus when they find themselves paralyzed by anxiety, fear, shame and a host of other afflictions which can lead to emotional and spiritual paralysis.
For the last few years (made challenging by COVID-19 of late) I’ve had the privilege of being part of a “Band of Brothers” group of men, committed to taking the ‘journey of the heart’ together. Every two weeks are spent together sharing the joys and pains of life with each other. There have been times where each of us have been the one paralyzed on the mat, weak, weary and wounded from the journey. Just as it was essential for the paralyzed man in Mark’s Gospel to have empathetic and loving friends, so too have I and the other men in our group relied upon the listening ears, empathetic hearts, and wise words to “carry” one another through the inevitable struggles of life and faith.
I’m grateful for these men and other men, women and children in my life whom have helped carry me in my weak and weary seasons, while having the privilege of reciprocating such care.
In this strange and disorienting time in all our journeys where social contact is limited, it is essential that we don’t isolate ourselves from those in need of care and carrying and from reaching out to trusted friends who are there to do likewise in our moments of struggle and despair. It may not be as frequent or intimate as would have been possible before COVID-19 turned the world upside down, but this story is a powerful reminder that we are created for relationships and we will all find ourselves on the mat from time to time. In those paralyzing seasons of life may our faith in Jesus be displayed through our vulnerability and willingness to allow our trusted friends to carry us to Jesus.