It’s only a matter of time

But Jesus’s perspective is different

Mark 1:34, 41; 2:11 Jesus healed many people who were sick with various diseases … Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and healed the leper. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” … Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home.”

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away [a tormenting “thorn” in Paul’s body]. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

How can a loving father with power to heal, NOT heal his beloved daughter?

Karis took this vexing question to the Lord again and again during her life. At age 11, she chose 2 Corinthians 12:8-9 as her life verses. She referred to them often in journals when she details her intimate conversations with God. Another frequent phrase is, “Don’t ask why. Ask what for.” Her high view of God’s sovereignty, combined with her absolute trust in his love for her, led her to look constantly for what he was doing through her difficult circumstances. I came to expect this question when we were once again in crisis and on the way to the hospital: “I wonder who’s there this time who needs to see God’s love?”

I mentioned on the last blog that the conversation between Jesus and Little James in the second episode of Season 3 of The Chosen could have been lifted from Karis’s journals. Here’s my transcript. It’s not complete but most of the conversation is there, in case you want to refer back to it later.

Jesus has just instructed the twelve disciples to go out two by two in different directions, giving them the authority to heal, as they have seen him heal many people. Lame Little James asks Jesus for a conversation afterwards.

James: How can I heal others when you haven’t healed me?

Jesus: Do you want to be healed?

James: Yes. Why haven’t you?

Jesus: Because I trust you.

James: What?

Jesus: Precious Little James, listen carefully. Within the Father’s will, I could heal you right now, and you would have a good story to tell.

James: That you do miracles.

Jesus: Yes. That’s a good story to tell. But there are already dozens who can tell that story, and there will be hundreds more, even thousands. But think of the story that you have if I don’t heal you. That you still praise God in spite of this [disability]. That you know how to focus on all that matters so much more than the body. That you show people you can be patient with your suffering her on earth, because you know you can spend eternity with no suffering. Not everyone can understand that. How many people do you think the Father and I trust this with? Not many.

James: But the other disciples—they’re so much more …

Jesus: Are you fast, impressive when you walk? Maybe not. But these are things the Father doesn’t care about. You are going to do more for me than most people ever dream. So many people need healing in order to believe in me … That doesn’t apply to you. And many are healed or not healed because the Father has a plan for them which may be a mystery. And we remember what Job says, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away.”

James joins Jesus saying: “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Jesus: When you pass from this earth and you meet your Father in heaven, Isaiah promises you will leap like a deer. Your reward will be great. So hold on a little longer. And when you discover yourself finding true strength because of your weakness, and when you do great things in my name in spite of this [your lameness], the impact will last for generations. Do you understand?

James, with tears: Yes. Thank you, Master.

Jesus: A man like you healing others. Oh, what a sight! I can’t wait to hear your stories.

Jesus starts to walk away after they bless each other but turns back.

Jesus: And James, you will be healed. It’s only a matter of time.

Karis’s famous smile … on a Christmas day in the hospital

But God’s judgment is discipline

1 Corinthians 11:31-32 If we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Hebrews 12:5-6 Have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves.”

Ephesians 5:1-2 Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms!

Since today is Mother’s Day, I’m skipping chapter 10 and will come back to it in the next post.  The tension between judgment and discipline, and the way each is handled, seems to me an important theme for parents—dads too!

Those of us who grew up not feeling loved by our parents may have an especially hard time figuring out the judgment/discipline dynamic. I love the practical counsel offered by Cloud and Townsend in their book Boundaries with Kids: How Healthy Choices Grow Healthy Children because it focuses on love as the context for discipline. It showed me that my own choices as a mom were more important than my children’s behavior. I wish I had understood this when my children were young.

Judgment is the evaluation we make of behavior against a standard. It alerts us to the need for shaping, training, and instruction, the definition of the word paideuo used by both Paul and the writer to the Hebrews. How different that is from being told to perform a task—with little or no instruction or opportunity to practice—and then being punished for not doing it well. That was a frequent pattern in my home growing up. It does lead to self-judgment, but not in a positive sense of developing healthy internal boundaries based on knowing one can do what is expected. It makes one want to give up, because the parent is impossible to please.

Our Father/Mother* God isn’t like that. Jesus shows us what he is like. I’m enchanted with the way Jesus is depicted for us in the wonderful series “The Chosen”. Watching that may be the best Mother’s Day gift you can give yourself!

*See, for example, Psalm 27:10, Isaiah 66:13, Hosea 11:3-4, Matthew 23:37.