Do you know the story about Jesus healing the paralytic? (You can find it in Mark 2:1-12.) It goes something like this. Jesus is teaching. He’s in a building, perhaps someone’s home. It’s a full house—packed with eager listeners, along with the usual contingent of Pharisees, trying to trip Him up. It’s so crowded that, when a group of friends arrive, they can’t get in the door.
It’s important for them to get inside because they’ve brought another friend who has been paralyzed for years and years. Everyone had given up hope. Then Jesus comes onto the scene, healing folks. Clearly, this is the big chance. If anyone can heal this man, Jesus can. So they scoop him up and bring him to Jesus. And now they’re reached a dead end. They can’t get inside!
I really admire these friends. They’ve already carried someone they clearly care about all the way to where Jesus is hanging out. And now they refuse to be daunted. They climb up onto the roof, dig a large hole through it, and lower their friend down into the room below. That’s persistence!
Of course, after that buildup, you know that Jesus heals the paralyzed man, telling him to take up his mat and go home. In the process, He also forgives his sins.
I’ve heard plenty of sermons on this passage. Some point out how much faith the friends must have had. Others focus on how this is a declaration to the Pharisees that Jesus is indeed God, with the power to forgive sins. And some highlight the healing that is available to us as believers. But I’ve never heard anyone comment on the hole in the roof.
I’ve always wondered—what happened next? Who owned this building? Did Jesus repair the damaged ceiling? Did the healed man, or his friends, cover the cost? Or did the owner get stuck with the bill—or the hassle of fixing it himself? We can hope that even he was thrilled at the healing—it would be a hard-hearted person indeed who couldn’t rejoice at such a result—but did he harbor a bit of resentment that some other person’s healing cost him something?
Such collateral damage still happens today. God does something that helps someone else, and we bear the cost. Think of, say, Corrie Ten Boom. She and her family hid Jews from the Nazis, and it cost her years in a concentration camp—and her father’s and sister’s lives. We know that they chose to take this risk in love for others, but that’s not always the case.
My sweetie Pete happens to have a genetic predisposition to develop “tunnel” issues, carpal and others. He’s had a number of surgeries on his fingers to loosen the tunnels that his tendons run through, allowing him to use his hands pain-free. As a result, he’s gotten to know the medical staff at his hand doctor’s office. In the course of treatment, he’s had a number of opportunities to share how God has worked in his life. A number of the nurses and other assistants have commented how encouraging these stories are, and how they’ve changed their view of God as a result of hearing them.
We suspect that Pete’s medical woes are God’s way of reaching out to these care providers. Yes, Pete endures having his hands cut open—not exactly what most of us would choose. But as he says, if his discomfort is what it takes for someone else to enter the Kingdom, he’ll consider it well worth the pain.
When something goes “wrong,” we all have a human tendency to ask God, Why me? Why did I get cancer? Why is my marriage on the rocks? Why did the flood destroy my house? I didn’t deserve that! It helps me to remember that when I signed on as God’s daughter, I gave Him free rein to do whatever He wants. And sometimes, He uses me to benefit someone else. Perhaps my friend needs to see me trusting God in the midst of a storm.
Do I have enough confidence in God’s love for me that I can make myself available on behalf of someone else? We don’t know how the story played out, but I suspect that God provided for a new roof, one way or another.