The Uncrippling

10:46 AMHeather

The daylight poured through the window of her tiny little house. Although house might be an overstatement for the one room shack with dirt floors. There, lying uncomfortably on her straw mattress, she saw the light of a new day. And she remembered what it was like. Back when that meant something. When a new day meant promise and possibilities. When a new day meant possibly new opportunities that stretched out before her, beckoning her. 

Way back then. She scolded herself for allowing this train of thought. Allowing herself to ponder the luxury she used to have and always took for granted. The luxury of hope. The luxury of joy. 

Bitterness then reached in and took over, her familiar companion. The only emotion that seemed appropriate and comfortable, albeit dismal and depressing to live with that feeling overshadowing every day.

Every single day. The sunlight poured in, but dark clouds never left.

She sighed a deep sigh and struggled to rise from her bed. The pain overwhelming her. The effort to get out of bed a great strain that took what little energy she ever seemed to have. She dressed herself, which would be about the extend of her daily accomplishments. 

For what? She wondered. Why bother? Yet, she couldn't seem to do any differently. Just as she had done nearly every day for now eighteen years. Ever since it started. 

Oh, that fateful day was replayed over and over and over again. A constant puzzle on how she might have done differently to have a different outcome. How could she have avoided this crippling? The bending of her back that made every moment of every day miserable and painful and made life feel pointless.

No doctor could save her. No treatment had helped her. Gradually, she seemed to be alone with her dreary thoughts, as friends who were initially helpful and concerned began to float away, distracted by their own healthy and full lives that marched forward. Without her. She had very little family to assist her. They, too, had gone from taking her from doctor to doctor to an acceptance of her fate as their own lives continued with a fullness and abundance that she no longer had.

Because day after day, she just wrestled through every wretched moment of pain to get to the end of the day. Hopelessness was an exhausting way to live. She relied on the mercy of others to drop water and food to her and she enjoyed but an occasional visit from someone to check on her.

As she stumbled to the table for her morning meal, such as it was, she heard a knock on the door. And she was startled. It was the Sabbath. Who would be coming on this day? 

She called loudly to come in, as getting to the door to let the visitor in was too much effort for her. She was surprised to see her distant cousin, whose last visit had been some time before. 

She tried to sort out what he was saying, but he spoke quickly, with excitement. She eventually gathered that he was speaking of the teacher that so many were talking about. The man from Galilee who was said to perform great miracles and speak with an authority that belied his humble upbringing.

Her cousin had heard that the teacher would be at their synagogue this day. He had decided that he must bring her to the syngagogue. He hoped that perhaps this man might infuse even the tiniest bit of hope within his crippled kin. He admitted to her that he had long since given up on ideas to help her, but yet he thought this day at the synagogue might help lift the depression that seemed to cripple her as much as her bent and broken back.

She initially refused, as it seemed pointless. But she remembered how the townsfolk spoke of this teacher. She considered the joy he seemed to bring to those who heard him. Well, joy for some, yet anger for others. She was intrigued enough that she agreed to make the effort to come to the synagogue with her cousin. 

And thus, she sat. In the crowd. Exhausted and worn from the endeavor of shuffling to the temple that day. Yet she found the teacher just as it was said he was. Speaking with authority, yet also containing a gentleness and a tenderness that was soothing and encouraging. And very different from anyone she had ever met before.

That's when it happened.

That's when he, the man named Jesus, saw her. Bent over and unable to straighten up.

That's when he called her forward.

She gulped. She knew. Somehow she knew. She had to come closer to him.

And that's when he said the words that would change her life. Forever. The words that brought her bitterness and pain and suffering to an end.

The words that brought the uncrippling.

"Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 

And he put his hands on her. Immediately she straightened up. And she could not even contain it. Her loud and boisterous praise to the God Almighty.

Because the spirit who had crippled her body and her very own spirit was gone. Just like that. Banished. Forever and ever.

And the life that had become her prison sentence for the last eighteen years had come to end. 

She was freed. She was set free from the pain and the suffering and the relentless depression that had held her captive for so very long.

Luke 13:10-13 tells of this healing. This uncrippling.

And perhaps this story falls firmly in the category of interesting and yet unapplicable Bible stories for you. Because your back isn't bent and you are not crippled.

But yet, this story is about you. In fact, it's about all of us.

Because all of us have been bent and crippled emotionally and spiritually and perhaps even socially. By the wounds of others, by the things that have been done or said to us. Perhaps by friends or even family. Maybe by a stranger. The ways we have been hurt and treated and wronged. The names we were called. The bullying that occurred. The ways we were abandoned or rejected or victimized. The losses we've endured. The grief with which we live. 

And it all leaves us crippled. But we may not even recognize it. We may not even see how crippled we are. We don't even realize it.

But just as Jesus saw this crippled lady and her bent body, he sees us. 

Jesus sees our infirmities. He sees our struggles and our brokenness.

And the sight of it moves him to action.

Because the Lord's heart beat for us is freedom and wholeness.

He sees our crippling emotionally and spiritually, for all these years. He knows every moment of every day that we have struggled.

And he says, "Woman [or man], you are set free from your infirmity!"

He says no more self-pity.

He says no more poor me or inability to trust or reasons to rehearse our wounds by repeating their story, again and again, in an effort to gain attention or validation or to evoke compassion or justice for ourselves.

He says you are free. You are not rejected, neglected, abandoned, less than, damaged goods. You are not the sum total of the things done to you. They are not your identity.

Jesus says you are freed, healed and complete.

And what's next?  What do we do with that?

Now, we are to ask him to show us how to walk in this freedom. We are to seek him about how to walk out our freedom and wholeness. We beg his grace and guidance on how to proceed in the healing he offers. 

His touch on our lives brings us immediate wholeness and it should leave us praising God. 

We should see our crippling for what it is. It's a spiritual battle. Just as this woman in Luke 13 was crippled in her body by a spirit. Jesus said in verse 16 that satan had kept her bound, and we are recognize what's behind our crippling. It's our very real enemy. 

So this is how we move forward in freedom and wholeness. 

(1) We pray against our enemy, asking God to bind him through the blood of Jesus. 

(2) We are to stand firm on specific promises, praying them and claiming them and memorizing them. Using them as our Sword, which the Word of God is. Verses like Isaiah 9:4:

For the yoke of his burden, and the staff of his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

(3) We are to seek prayer cover and accountability through close friends or spouses or our life group.

(4) We are to ask him to show us how to walk in freedom and wholeness, day by day. Or possibly moment by moment if necessary.

(5) We are to quit dwelling on the past and we are to forget the former things. As Isaiah 43:18-19 says, we are to forget these former things, not dwell on the past, but look for the new things that God is doing. Quit rehearsing and rehashing our past. But move forward to the new things.

(6) We are to retrain ourselves, day by day, in these new things. In freedom and wholeness. Remembering that Jesus has set us free. That by his wounds, we are healed. That he has loved us radically and poured out grace and mercy and that he intends for us to be UNCRIPPLED. He wants us to quit being bent and twisted by our crippling past.

And it's hard. If you've ever had a prolonged physical injury, you know that you tend to compensate. You walk differently, move differently, sit differently -- favoring your good side in order to avoid the pain. The same is true of emotional injury. We compensate. We live and move differently to avoid the pain.


May today be the day. May today be the day we see the sunlight streaming in our window and we know that today is the first day of freedom and wholeness and a new way of life.

Because Jesus came to uncripple us all.

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