August 29, 2020
He Took Up Our Infirmities and Bore Our Diseases
August 29, 2020
When Jesus came into Peter’s house, he saw Peter’s mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand and the fever left her, and she got up and began to wait on him. When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “He took up our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matt 8:14-17)
This August we took a break from the current restrictions of suburban life and headed to a family farm in the mountains of western Virginia’s National Forests. Early mornings, I sit on the porch with my first cup of coffee, and I watch the grey mist that hides the peaks surrounding me. As dawn progresses, the mist gently turns to gold. The sun makes its slow appearance from behind the mountain, and soon the golden mist is rising to meet the sun’s warmth. There revealed before me is the landscape I have known and loved since I was a child, and its beauty and endurance are healing.
The pandemic has inflicted not only physical illness but also sadness, anxiety, trauma for those in essential jobs, longing for remedies and vaccines, and deep loneliness. All of us need Jesus’ healing touch, the power of God to bring us back to living in community. We’d like a quick miracle, but we also know that God has given us doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, and myriad ways to acquire information, as well as our own intelligence and common sense. Can we accept these avenues to healing? Do we have the patience?
Jesus’ acts of healing involve more than physical restoration. Time and again, he says, “Your sins are forgiven you.” As with Peter’s mother-in-law, his concern is that healed individuals no longer be isolated, that they safely return to their community and be engaged in serving others. My granddaughters (who have “bubbled” with us) swim with me in our clear stream or sit quietly listening to the rapids, and I am reminded that we are led to healing waters by the power of God’s love through Jesus the Healer.
This place belonged to my father, a physician and beloved in our small town as a Bible teacher. At his retirement he was given a lovely plaque that still hangs in my sister’s cottage. The calligraphy reads,
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth. (Ps 121:1-2)
QUESTIONS FOR THE FIELD
- In John 9:2-3 Jesus tells the disciples that sickness does not come upon us because we have sinned, and yet he tells the people he heals that their sins are forgiven. Why is forgiveness a part of the healing process?
- Psalm 23 describes a place where God’s healing can take place. Where would you go now—for real or in your imagination—to feel the relief and comfort of God’s healing?
Come, Lord Jesus: You are the hope of all the earth.
You look with tender mercy on all who suffer;
you promise that death will be destroyed;
you take up our infirmities and bare all our burdens.
Come to those whose lives are touched by sadness and pain,
and shield those who are vulnerable and their families.
Especially we remember those who are sick: (Names).
Give them strength and courage on their journey to healing.
Let them know your loving embrace and your healing touch.
Guide and protect doctors, nurses, and all hospital workers.
Give us understanding and patience. Grant us healing and peace.
God in your mercy, hear our prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen. (BGM)