The Lord Forgave to Heal

There is an interesting story in the New Testament on the power of forgiveness and the effect that it can have on us physically and psychologically.  Now you may ask yourself what forgiveness has to do with health and healing.  May I paraphrase one of my favorite stories from the New Testament.  It must have been important that we understand this principle for it is found in three of the four gospels;  Matthew 9:2-8,   Mark 2:2- 12.  Luke 5 :18- 26

There was a man who had palsy for several years to the degree that it had left him bedridden.  He felt that if he could just get to the Savior he could be healed.  His friends agreed with him, so the friends put him on a cot or stretcher and carried him to the home in Capernaum where Jesus was teaching.  Apparently there was quite a gathering at the home making it impossible to get the man through the crowd or even in the  doorway to where Christ was teaching. His friends carried him up on the roof where they removed some tiles and lowered him bed and all with ropes down through the roof in the vicinity where the Savior was teaching.

I’m sure this caused quite a commotion, as the people saw this man being lowered with ropes lying on a bed all gnarled with palsy.  The scriptures tell us that, “The Lord recognizing their great faith,(the man and his friends) said `My son, thy sins are forgiven thee'”.  Among the crowd along with the Pharisees were the Scribes, feverishly taking notes on “this guy, Jesus” looking for anything that they could consider blasphemous, that they might condemn him.  Their immediate reaction was “that is blasphemous!  Who does he think he is?  Only God can heal by forgiving.”  Christ perceived their thoughts and said, “Why are ye troubled in your hearts?  Whether is easier, to say, thy sins be forgiven thee or to say, Rise up and walk?  But that ye may know  that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the man sick of palsy,)  I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house.  And immediately he rose up and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own home, glorifying God.

Now there are some interesting lessons to be learned here.  The fact that the man had sinned sometime in his past and had subconsciously punished himself with palsy trying to atone for his sins.  He had repented or he wouldn’t have come to the Savior, but he hadn’t forgiven himself, and he couldn’t, until he knew that the Savior had forgiven him.  “Recognizing their great faith.”  What a key!  I have wondered how many sick people the Savior passed by, because they lacked the faith to be healed.  I can only imagine that as the Lord forgave the man with palsy, that a heavy burden of guilt was lifted off his shoulders that he had been bearing.

Can you begin to see why the Apostles questioned the Lord, as they came to a man who had been blind since birth, “Who sinned, this man or his parents?”  They were beginning to recognize the fact that health problems many times were closely related to sinning, and now they were trying to figure out when this man had sinned, or was it his parents that sinned and he was trying to pay the price with his blindness. In this particular case the Lord helped them to understand that it was neither the parents nor the man who sinned, but this man’s blindness was “so that the power of God might be manifested”.  Obviously all health problems aren’t related to sin but there are enough to look at it seriously as a cause.

Another thought I have had concerns the faith we have in an immediate healing.  Today the man with palsy would say when told to take up his bed and walk,  “You don’t really expect me to walk?  How about if I just straighten my foot a little or wiggle my toe so that will show that I can get better and maybe walk in a couple of years.   I’ve had this problem for years and the doctor said I would just have to learn to live with it.  I know I can get better some day.”  We really don’t expect to be healed immediately today.  I’m afraid we lack the faith for an immediate healing most of the time.

Just a few months after the Lord forgave this man, He forgave you and me, in the Garden of Gethsemane, when He took upon Himself the sins of all the world and atoned for our transgressions.  This atonement is predicated upon our willingness to repent and forgive, allowing Him to take the burden of  guilt from us.

May we have the faith to be healed and accept the Lord’s atoning sacrifice  and allow ourselves to be healthy and happy as we follow His plan of Happiness.

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Loving Every Person

One of my favorite and highly recommended books, Return from Tomorrow, written by a man for whom I have a great deal of respect,  Dr. George Ritchie,  has one of my favorite stories on forgiveness.  I quote Dr. Ritchie from the book beginning on page 114.

“And that’s how I came to know Wild Bill Cody.  That wasn’t his real name.  His real name was seven unpronounceable syllables in Polish, but he had long drooping handlebar mustaches like pictures of the old western hero, so the American soldiers called him Wild Bill.  He was one of the inmates of the concentration camp, but obviously he hadn’t been there long. His posture was erect, his eyes bright, his energy indefatigable.  Since he was fluent in English, French, German, and Russian, as well as Polish, he became a kind of unofficial camp translator.”

“We came to him with all sorts of problems; the paper work alone was staggering in attempting to relocate people whose families, even whole hometowns, might have disappeared.  But though Wild Bill worked fifteen and sixteen hours a day, he showed no signs of weariness.  While the rest of us were drooping with fatigue, he seemed to gain strength.  `We have time for this old fellow,’ he’d say. `He’s been waiting to see us all day.'”

“His compassion for his fellow prisoners glowed on his face, and it was to this glow that I came when my own spirits were low.  So I was astonished to learn when Wild Bill’s own papers came before us one day, that he had been in Wuppertal since 1939!  For six years he had lived on the same starvation diet, slept in the same airless and disease-ridden barracks as everyone else, but without the least physical or mental deterioration.”

“Perhaps even more amazing, every group in the camp looked on him as a friend.  He was the one to whom quarrels between inmates were brought for arbitration.  Only after I’d been at Wuppertal a number of weeks did I realize what a rarity this was in a compound where the different nationalities of prisoners hated each other almost as much as they did the Germans.

As for Germans, feeling against them ran so high that in some of the camps liberated earlier, former prisoners had seized guns, run into the nearest village and simply shot the first Germans they saw.  Part of our instructions were to prevent this kind of thing and again Wild Bill was our greatest asset, reasoning with the different groups, counseling forgiveness.”

“`It’s not easy for some of them to forgive’,  I commented to him one day as we sat over mugs of tea in the processing center.  `So many of them have lost members of their families.'”

“Wild Bill leaned back in the upright chair and sipped at his drink.  `We lived in the Jewish section of Warsaw,’ he began slowly, the first words I had heard him speak about himself, `my wife, our two daughters, and our three little boys.  When the Germans reached our street they lined everyone against a wall and opened up with machine guns.  I begged to be allowed to die with my family, but because I spoke German they put me in a work group.'”

“He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and five children.  `I had to decide right then,’ he continued, `whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people’s minds and bodies.  Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world.  I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life–whether it was a few days or many years–loving every person I came in contact with.'”

“Loving every person… this was power that had kept a man well in the face of every privation.”

To me this is an exciting story on the power of forgiveness and the effect that it has on us physically and psychologically.  Even though, from Dr. Ritchie’s account, this man lived in such a dreadful environment, as did all the rest, he was not emaciated like the others.  Apparently, he didn’t have to be emaciated to justify all the fear, hate, anger and other negative feelings his fellow prisoners had bottled up inside causing them to fester in their bodies in many cases even unto death.  He chose to forgive and love every person.

Man’s responsibility is to forgive

This is one of my favorite poems regarding forgiveness.  This is an English translation of a Scottish Poet Robert Burns.  It actually reads better in the  English version.  I hope you like it and put it into practice.  I try to forgive and allow  people the free agency to be less than perfect and let the Lord be the judge.  Are not all of us sinners?

Therefore look gently on men, And even more gently on women.
Although they may go a little wrong, Do not condemn them.
Above all consider not merely what they have done, But why.
God alone has the power to look into a human heart,
To judge actions and motives and regrets.
He alone knows not only what one has done and why,
But what one has resisted doing and why–
Man’s responsibility is to forgive:
Only God has the authority to judge.
– Robert Burns