“Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise.”

—John 5:19–20

FAITH THAT OVERCOMES ALL ODDS

Jesus has returned to his current home in Capernaum. A great crowd gathered in and around the house. So many, that even the front door was blocked. At the same time, four friends had heard about Jesus’ arrival and picked up their paralyzed friend to take him to Jesus. They arrived too late to get into the house and found every entrance blocked. They knew in their hearts there had to be a way to bring their friend to Jesus. They persistently studied the house and began to debate the best method.

After some discussion, they decided to go to the roof of the house and create a hole, which would allow them to lower their friend into the house. They climbed to the top of the roof and began to remove parts of the roof just above Jesus. When they had removed enough material to make a hole, they lowered their friend into the house. Immediately, Jesus saw the man and looked up to see the faces of his four friends expectantly looking back at him. Jesus saw in their faces a persistent faith of trust and hope. He immediately said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” (Mark 2:5)

Upon hearing this, the religious leaders in the crowd began to question the authority Jesus had taken in forgiving the man. Jesus responded by saying, “Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’?” To demonstrate his divine authority, Jesus says to the paralyzed friend of the four, “Stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” Immediately, the man stood up and went home. (Mark 2:8–12)

“A simple act driven by their hearts and full of compassion, was rewarded by Jesus, who saw in their faces a trusting faith.”

Four friends knew in their faith-filled hearts that Jesus could help their friend. When blocked, they responded with a faithful ingenuity and found a way. A way that changed the course of a life. A simple act driven by their hearts and full of compassion, was rewarded by Jesus, who saw in their faces a trusting and persistent faith.

“Our hearts sense when our neighbors are in need, and when we reach out we can change the course of their lives.”

There are those times in our lives when we must lift up our neighbors, when they cannot lift themselves. Maybe through providing a meal, or a ride, perhaps a prayer that is filled with a deep sense of compassion for our neighbor. Our hearts sense when our neighbors are in need, and when we reach out, we can change the course of their lives. Our compassion for others and a persistent and trusting faith create a powerful healing.

These are among those times in our lives when we cross over to the threshold of believing and knowing that the solution requires a persistent faith. A faith that relies on and trusts beyond what we physically see, to what is unseen. They are times when we know that the next step requires an unusual persistence in our efforts. Obstacles may seem too high, but our faith drives us to carry on. We know our efforts may result in our momentary suffering. It is in this spot, that we should not give up but should persevere.

The apostle Paul describes this persistent faith and how it generates hope, in Romans 5:3–5: “We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” In this brief statement, Paul describes the process of building a persistent faith. A faith that requires us to share with God the results we hope for; not to sit back and wait for our hopeful outcomes, but to work persistently with God. We then have the firmness of a faith that is sure that our honorable efforts, regardless of the hurdles we face, will be answered.

The four men were successful in getting their friend healed because they were sure their persistent efforts of compassion would be answered. They worked around the obstacles that stood in front of them and pressed on. Jesus, seeing this, healed their friend.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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