“As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.
That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. Mark 1:29-34
I was sick this winter. Sicker than I’ve ever been. I spent five days with a fever over 102 degrees, it was not pretty. Each day as I lay on the sofa, I retreated farther and farther into myself. The fever somehow disconnected me from my life. It was otherworldly, and terrifying. My friend Terri, who’s a nurse, finally bossed me back to the doctor and the antibiotics I needed to begin to heal from pneumonia. It took weeks to recover my strength and stamina. I will never take my good health for granted again… nor underestimate the impact of sickness.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay in bed with a fever. There were no antibiotics, x-rays, or flu tests to determine the cause of her fever. In an age when disease meant an uncertain future, patients were tended to, herbs and fluids, rest and prayers were offered and received. Families waited to see if the patient would recover or succumb to illness and death. The veil between life and death seems much thinner without the multitudes of medical interventions we run to for protection and relief.
As Jesus entered Simon’s home, He learned of her illness and He went to her. Jesus stepped into her sickroom. He is not afraid or offended by our sickness, He enters into our desperate situations. He is undeterred by physical sickness, chronic disease, mental illness, addiction, or any of the host of troubles that assail us. He simply steps into our lives, just as they are. He loves us as we are, where we are, completely.
This is a picture of Love being present, of Love stepping into the pain, the sickness, and the confusion of both life and death. This is first of all a ministry of presence. He comes to her in her sickness. I am often so busy trying to get God to change my circumstances, that I miss the ministry of His presence in them. When we are sick, afraid, vulnerable, and weak He leans in close. He is here. He takes our hand and sits with us. With tears streaming down His face, He entered into the grief of his friend Lazarus’ death. He met the sisters in their grief, and bore it as His own (John 12). And then He called forth the dead. Simon’s mother-in-law experienced this same healing power as He helped her up from her sick bed. Where Jesus enters in, sin and death lose their grip.
I’ll bet you sometimes find yourself overcome by life, by the pace of it, the turmoil of it, and the scope of the troubles that blow against you. This picture of Jesus taking her by the hand and helping her up is one of great hope for me. When life and circumstances knock me to the floor, there is One who will enter in, take my hand, and help me up. This is a patient friend, one who will come into my life, just as it is and sit with me. Maybe He will just hold my hand for a bit while I cry. Maybe He will just sit with me as I vent about life the way I want it to be. Maybe He will just listen. And then, when I am done, spent, emptied of myself, He will help me up. Renewed by His presence and empowered by His spirit, I am again ready to join in the ministry of service.
When word leaked of this miraculous intervention of Jesus, the whole town gathered at the door. The ministry of His presence brought healing and deliverance, it still does. Maybe if we focused more on His presence inside the storms of life, we would see His power move outward towards the world clamoring for healing and peace. I often think the reason the world is not at my door looking for the source of my hope and help, it is because I have not really put my hope and security in His presence and power in my life. I am missing the simple truth that He went to her, took her hand, and helped her up… and He would do the same for me, if I let Him.
Reflect– What made you think as you read this?
Receive– What touched your heart?
Respond– What will you do because you read this?