I write this from my chemo chair as I undergo another day or treatment in my cancer journey. I’m blessed by friends who drive me to treatment and rides back home. The treatment itself is lonely. I sit in the chair while they hang bag after bag of meds for infusion into my sick body.
Today I’ve been inundated with one message after another from people letting me know they are thinking of me or praying for me. Former students in Europe sent a video to let me know they are praying for me. Coworkers who let me know they are praying today for me. Old school friends from years ago letting me know they were thinking of me. Local business associates in town just letting me know they care.
It dawned on me that I have spent much of my time in this chair praying for myself. But that effort pales in comparison to the prayer of so many friends who lift me before God every day. My personal prayer is dwarfed by the mountain of prayer from others who care about me.
I’m immediately reminded of an experience Jesus had in Mark 2. He was teaching people and the crowd had grown so much they had filled the house where he was. It says they had filled the house and there wasn’t even room outside the door for more people.
There happened to be some friends who wanted to get another friend of theirs to Jesus for healing. Four of them carried this paralyzed man to the house but couldn’t get through to Jesus.
Most Palestinian homes at this time had a flat roof. It probably was made of some beams and covered in thatch. Then rolled with some soil or clay to make it waterproof.
These friends climbed to the roof of the house and began to dig a hole. Can you imagine those inside the house responding? “Dudes, what are you doing?! We’re trying to listen to Jesus in here!”
Yet the friends didn’t give up. They kept at it until they made a hole big enough to lower their paralyzed friend on a mat through the roof and down to Jesus.
How many times do we give up because the task it too difficult? Jesus seems inaccessible. We had good intentions, but the whole process was just more work than we anticipated.
These friends didn’t give up. And Jesus observed their commitment and love for their friend. In fact, it says Jesus healed the man because he “saw their faith”. Not the faith of the paralyzed man. It was the faith of the friends that moved Jesus’ heart to respond.
I’m reminded to not dismiss the power of praying and caring friends. Friends who don’t give up on the difficult days. Friends who are persistent and faithful in remembering me before God.
Jesus was moved by the determined persistence of this man’s friends. They made a difference in his life. He was healed because they didn’t give up.
I walked into the infusion lab last week and one of the nurses immediately asked if my ears were burning. It seems just before I walked in a box of warm, fresh cookies had been delivered for the oncology infusion nurses with a message, “Thanks for taking care of our Pastor Jeff.”
I was treated like a king because of the kindness of some friends.
My life is not just the result of my actions, my prayer, my efforts. I’m the result of many who are helping carry my burdens.
I hope you have people in your life for whom you are carrying them before Jesus. Likewise, I hope you have gathered people in your life who are willing to lift you before Jesus. We weren’t designed to do this alone.
By Jeff Denton