8-15-16 - Perseverance

How long have you lived with an ailment or a limitation? A destructive habit? A job that doesn’t fit your gifts? This week we meet a woman who was bent over, crippled for 18 years. And then she met Jesus.

Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight.

Eighteen years. That’s a long time not to be able to look anyone in the eye, to have to strain to see the sky. That’s a long time to be the object of pity and whispers, maybe even scorn. A long time to live in pain, for scoliosis, if that’s what she had, is painful, and when your spine is so radically out of alignment, it puts pressure on other muscles in the body.

But she persevered. As this week’s gospel passage tells the story, she doesn’t even ask for healing. She just shows up for worship on the sabbath, when Jesus happens to be teaching. It may not even have occurred to her that she could be free of her disabling and incurable condition.

Perseverance is a virtue – and sometimes it can get in the way of our faith. One of our invitations as Christ followers is to believe that there is nothing in this world that we are stuck with. Nothing is beyond the reach of God’s transforming power – except a human heart firmly turned away from him. God’s power can set us free from every illness, infirmity, even injustice as we exercise our faith and invite God to release that healing stream in us. We may not always live long enough to see the full healing, especially of societal ills, but imagine how much more healing we do see when we believe and pray.

As we begin this week, bring into the foreground of your awareness something you feel you are truly stuck with, from which you’d like to freed. Just hold it in your mind’s eye, and imagine what you would look or feel or act like released from that condition. That in itself is an act of prayer.

Let’s see what the Holy Spirit does with that as we continue in conversation with God about it. I believe something will break open – maybe our hearts, for starters.

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