“Now [Jesus] was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bent over and could in no way raise herself up.” Luke 13:10-11 NKJV
Bent over. Glaring at the ground, peering only at dirt, debris, and the passing of feet. For eighteen years. Caused by what? A spirit of infirmity. The Greek word used for ‘infirmity’ means lack of strength, weakness, frailty, disease, or sickness.
Years of physical affliction had constricted this woman into a permanent 45 degree angle, hindering her from being upright. The enemy had given her a swift kick in the back, leaving his footprints in her flesh as knotted muscles and pinched nerves.
How frustrating that must have been for her. Did this burden press so relentlessly against her body that daily duties escaped her touch? Did the stress sap her strength? Being unable to lift herself up, did she feel diminished in her usefulness? However, in spite of her condition, she still made her way to the synagogue to worship.
Read the above verses again, closely. Do you see it? Jesus is teaching, probably reading from the scriptures. As He tries to connect with the eyes of those sitting there, He notices a stooped-over woman. Her appearance diverts His attention from His teaching and He calls her out of the crowd to His side.
Think about this…Jesus stopped teaching and called her to come forward. How embarrassing. Despite the pitiful stares and whispers of others, she shuffled her way to the front.
As she stood before Him, surely she strained to look into His face, into those piercing eyes. Then, He gently laid His hands on her stooped shoulders, her place of misery. “Woman,” He said, “you are loosed from your infirmity.” (Luke 13:12 NKJV)
As if Sleeping Beauty awakening from her long sleep, the woman stretched her torso upright. As she did, eighteen years of heaviness and pain disintegrated from her back, quelling the effects of the enemy by the healing presence of the Lord. The Great Physician set the captive free from the grasp of a spirit of debilitation, making the crooked straight.
With a heart full of gratitude and tears streaming down her cheeks, she immediately lifted her arms toward heaven and began to praise God.
After looking up the definition of ‘infirmity,’ this scenario made me stop and think. I have had the pain and frustration of a physical condition for several years. This made me wonder…Does this infirmity cause me to be weak, spiritually as well as physically, constricting my life so tightly that it doubles me over in pain, like this woman?
There are those in a physically diseased or debilitated state or in a diminished capacity, those dependent on the use of medications or treatments, those confined by blindness or deafness, those supported by the use of crutches, braces, walkers, or wheelchairs, or those imprisoned by the rails of a bed.
Then there are those in a physically weakened condition because they have chosen to lean heavily on drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or whatever, causing an addiction.
So what happens when we permit our spiritual health to get so far out of whack that it affects our physical health? Or what happens when our physical posture negatively affects our spiritual posture?
In order to answer those, we need to search our hearts and ask ourselves some hard questions…
*What hinders me from standing upright?
*Does some burden restrict me?
*Do I allow sin to depress me?
*Does lust or pride enslave me?
*Does misunderstanding by others disable me?
*Do I need some substance to support me?
*Do I lean on excuses for a crutch?
*Do bitterness and unforgiveness tie me in knots?
*Do fears paralyze me?
*Does envy or jealousy bind me?
*Does illness keep me hunched over?
*Does financial lack immobilize me?
*Does stress sap my strength?
*Does the enemy blind me?
*Does the world deafen me?
Do we let any of these things imprison us spiritually, barring us from obedience to God’s Word? Do we allow ourselves to be diminished in usefulness? Do these things keep us from seeking God’s presence to worship Him?
When we are weak and disabled either physically or spiritually, we know we can depend solely – and soully – on the Lord. In any of these instances, we can repeat the words of Paul, “Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size – abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.” (2 Cor. 12:10 Msg)
No matter what physical or spiritual condition causes us to hunch over, our appearance attracts the Lord’s attention. If we allow Him to take over, He will call us out of the crowd to come to His side, to heal us where it hurts, to place His powerful hands on our place of misery and free us from the enemy’s grasp of debilitation. Jesus is ready to straighten us up, whatever our condition.
After experiencing a healing, whether physical or spiritual, we lift our hands to heaven, praising the Lord that He has made us upright in His sight, in His presence.
“The LORD frees the prisoners. The LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts the burdens of those bent beneath their loads. The LORD loves the righteous.” (Ps. 146:7b-8 NLT)
Prayer: Lord, allow my suffering to not be in vain. May I lift it up that others may trust in You no matter what infirmity weakens them – body, soul, or spirit. May I not allow my back to be bent by burdens that come into my life but praise You no matter what my spiritual state of infirmity. Amen!