When Jesus tells the paralyzed man to ‘pick up your mat and walk’, he is instructing him to be the head and not the tail.
When we’re paralyzed, we are
- at the mercy of our disability
- dependant upon others
- we tolerate the situation
I believe God wants us to allow the Spirit in us to be in control whilst you journey through chronic illness. Oftentimes however, our survival skills and coping strategies run the show.
We surrender our empowerment
If this is you, that’s completely ok and you are not alone. You have amazing protective parts which are helping you survive.
Some of my survival strategies involved depending on other people to do things for me like the housework or the supermarket shopping and I would often lash out at my poor old mum.
I always felt better afterwards as I’d released a whole load of anger.
Most days I lay in bed or on the sofa, the pain was all consuming and dominating my every thought.
I wanted to talk about my situation all the time; the comfort from others helped me survive. I thought about suicide constantly, this caused me to feel calmer as it was my way out of the hell I was in.
I wanted everyone else to pray for me, lay hands on me and relied upon their faith.
There is nothing wrong with this initially. I was coming to terms with living with a chronic illness and developing such strategies helped me survive.
But, The more you do something, the more it becomes normal or habitual. If you’re not careful, those coping strategies will keep you stuck, even though there were essential to begin with.
Do you have any destructive coping patterns that are helping you survive?
PICK UP YOUR MAT AND WALK
What we tolerate will never change.
Think of what was normal for the paralysed man by the pool of Bethesda in John 5. It was normal not to work, to beg, to lie there, to spectate life.
It was normal to experience disappointment, to have no expectations, to think healing is for everyone else.
Can you relate to this?
Are you just waiting for healing to land in your lap? God wants to move you from a place of passivity to a place of grace. This is where the healing is. He wants you to ‘pick up your mat and walk’
The paralyzed man was comfortable in his paralysis. He asks him (and us) ‘do you want to get well?’ The more we tolerate our difficulties and limitations, the harder it is to move into the place of receiving.
Can I encourage you today, to ask God to reveal what negative coping strategies you’re tolerating in your life, what are the areas you’ve become accustomed to?
Let me give you some common areas that become habitual for those living with chronic disease:
Are you depending on others to do housework for you, cook for you or do supermarket shopping for you? You assume you can’t do things for yourself.
This may have been appropriate for you when you were first diagnosed or if you’re living with a short term illness, there is no harm here.
However, relying on others all the time, even when you’re not well, is detrimental to your recovery journey. It keeps you in victim mode.
The paralysed man was relying on others; on their handouts, their pity, relying on them to carry him places and to take him to the water.
Jesus gave this man the opportunity to change when he healed him and instructed him to ‘pick up your mat and walk’. Essentially, he was giving him permission to do what he had never done before.
In terms of thinking, maybe you think healing is for everyone else? That God would have healed you by now and that you’ll stay unwell forever.
Do you think everyone else is better off? Are you angry at God for not healing? Do you resent others because you’re ill and they’re not? Are you lashing out at your nearest and dearest in order to release your anger?
Your wonderful mind has created these patterns of thinking to protect and help you in your trauma. Could you write down your thoughts? Sometimes when we see them written down, we see how they may be hurting us.
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Can I encourage you today to ask the Holy Spirit to show you where your thinking has become limited? Joe Dispensa says this “That’s why I say you have to think greater than the way you feel to make any real, lasting changes.”
When you’re in survival, your thinking is a reflection of your feelings. We want to interupt this thinking / feeling feedback loop or nothing is likely to change.
YOU ARE OK
Our circumstances may not be ok, but we are ok. We are children of the most High God, more than conquerors. Knowing your identity in Christ, is really helpful here. See ARE YOU CLOTHED IN CHRIST OR CLOTHED IN SICKNESS?
“Pick up your mat and walk.’” symbolizes that we have the power over those things which once we were dependent on. The paralyzed man had been dependent on his mat until God called him to action.
The LORD will make you the head, not the tail…..you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.
He changed his posture. We are the head and not the tail. What’s your mat? What are you relying on? Which thoughts and behaviours need to change?
God doesn’t want us depending on anyone other than him. Nor does He want us relying on toxic thinking patterns that will keep us bound.
Have a read of HOW TO RECEIVE GOD’S GRACE AND LIVE ABUNDANTLY which will help.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
REMEMBER, it really is one beautiful step at a time.
A good verse to depend on here is ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You see, if you can spend 2 minutes a day cleaning, it won’t be long before you increase to 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes etc.
It increases our faith when we move forward like this.
We can imagine the life God has for us with ease. Expecting to live life to the full when at the moment your norm is staying in bed is unlikely.
There is nothing the enemy wants more, than to keep us standing still. When we choose to stay in the status quo, then we remain in a position of restriction and lack.
There is no healing here. Journeys involve movement.
What your life would look like, if you changed those areas which you’ve settled in, where you’ve become dependent on others, expecting them to carry you or on patterns of thinking and behaviour?
Can you imagine the freedom, potential and the healing that would take place if we all change our posture and elevated the Word of God above natural realm thinking?
If we push boundaries and embrace the new normal; operating from a place of healing? In my opinion, this is what it means to ‘pick up your mat and walk’
Thank you for reading, I hope it helps you a little. If so, do check out other posts about the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda:
IS THE MEANING OF BETHESDA THE KEY TO YOUR BREAKTHROUGH?
NEGATIVE ATTENTION: ARE YOU SELF-SABOTAGING YOUR HEALING? (PART 3)