Bent over. Always glaring at the ground, peering only at dirt, debris, and the passing of feet.
For eighteen years, physical affliction 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.
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.
Jesus was teaching, probably reading from the Scriptures. As He tried to connect with the eyes of those sitting there, He noticed a stooped-over woman. Her appearance diverted His attention from His teaching and He called her out of the crowd to His side.
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 (lack of strength, weakness, frailty, disease, or sickness), 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, 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?
Do we let anything 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?
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 to free us from the enemy’s grasp of debilitation.
“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)
Jesus is ready to straighten us up, whatever our condition.
Are you ready?
~Prayer: Lord, there are so many people suffering right now, from illnesses, broken marriages or relationships, addictions, loss of a loved one, and all the devastation from disasters, whether storms or fires. May we all not be bent over with so much pain that we cannot see You looking at us and reaching out Your hand to help us. May we not be weakened but lifted up with praise. Amen!
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