Down thirteen points in a basketball game with 1:30 left to play. It seems like the game is over, and you are not going to win. It’s the end of the month, and money is tight. Then the unexpected bill comes, and you wonder how you will pay it. You have suffered with a physical disability for eighteen years where your body is bent over, and you can’t straighten yourself. This is just how it’s going to be for the rest of your life. In each of these situations, the temptation is to give up hope. The outcome is already determined, and there’s no changing things, right? Lee Corso, from College Game Day, says, “Not so fast, my friend.” And Jesus would agree. With Jesus, there is always hope, and things can change!
In Luke 13:10-17 we read about Jesus’ interaction with a disabled woman at the synagogue on the Sabbath. She has been suffering, and “when Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, ‘Woman, you are freed from your disability.’” (Luke 13:12) The ruler of the synagogue is upset because Jesus is “working” on the Sabbath, but that is not what struck me in these verses as I read them. Luke 13:18 is the verse that jumped out, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?”
For eighteen years, the woman could not stand up straight. I don’t know her mental state, but I imagine she could have been discouraged or frustrated. She didn’t ask for this affliction, and she may have given up hope that she would ever again be upright. But then Jesus saw her.
If Lee Corso had been commenting on the scene, he would have shared that Satan had her bound and looked like he was going on to victory. But then he would have echoed those famous words, “But not so fast, my friend.” Filled with compassion, Jesus declared her freed from her disability. What was a hopeless situation was now filled with hope. Everything changed when Jesus saw the woman and spoke with His healing power into her life.
After eighteen years, I would be tempted to think God said, “No.” He’s not going to remove this disability, and I will just have to live with it. But in this moment, Jesus brings healing. Yes, eighteen years is a long time, but what joy must have overcome that woman? Without the hard years, would she have known such joy? If she hadn’t experienced pain and heartache, would she have encountered Jesus in this special way?
God tells us to persevere. We are to press forward. If this woman had stopped after 2 years, 8 years, or 15 years, then she would not have experienced such a touch of grace. Are you dealing with a difficult situation? Are finances overwhelming you? Is your child making unwise choices, and you don’t know what to do? Do you have physical issues that trouble you? There’s not guarantee that Jesus will heal it today, tomorrow, or during this earthly life. But there is the hope that He can. Cling to that hope. Know that what your experience is today, may not be your experience for the rest of your life. And it won’t be your experience for eternity if you depend on Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
As Jim Valvano, another ESPN announcer, said, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Jesus is hope, and with Him, all things are possible.