The Middle : Sickness & Pain

(note: this post is a little personal)

Interruptions: It’s never about if you’ll be interrupted, but when, and then, will you let God use that interruption to make you better, to stretch you, to teach you?

Remember, Interruptions can give you or teach you about…Rest (forced to be bored), Perspective (emergency), Truth (wake up call), Opportunity, and Jesus (like Paul in Acts 9)

Interruptions often include…Messiness, Mystery, Surprises, sometimes fun, sometimes not fun, but always Lots and Lots of LEARNING.

God is in the middle of our interruptions…at least he can be, if we let him.

Here’s the crazy thing. When I spoke about this 2 weeks ago (posted here), it was also the weekend we found out about my wife’s cancer.

Even though we’d been fearing it, hoping for different news, in limbo about how she was feeling – when we heard the words CANCER, it was a shock. It was, and is, and will be, for this season, an interruption like we’ve never faced.

Here’s what we know:

  • It’s stage 4
  • There’s a hard road ahead
  • My wife will have to fight for her life, and we will fight with her
  • We will be stretched beyond what we think we are capable of

– – – – – – – –

What happens when sickness and pain creep into your life?

What happens when the thing you don’t wish on anyone, comes into your life?

What do you pray for? How do you manage? How do you live through that?

Let’s start with, and also end with, these words…

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I’d like us to talk about sickness and healing, but before we talk about healing, we have to understand that all sickness, all pain, doesn’t find a ‘good’ conclusion in this life, and if that’s true, which it is, Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 (above) must ring true in our lives, no matter what.

“There is a difference between curing and healing, and I believe the church is called to the slow and difficult work of healing. We are called to enter into one another’s pain, anoint it as holy, and stick around no matter the outcome.” (Rachel Held Evans)

If you know about Rachel Held Evans, you know that she is inspiring, intelligent, passionate about Jesus and the church, and, unfortunately, also, recently passed away with a very unique and fast acting virus. She was only 37 years of age. She wrote the words we just read only a couple of years ago. Wow.

– – – – – – – –

Even though we know full well that not all sick people get better, that doesn’t stop us from wanting to be better when we’re not well. This is a normal human desire. We want to be fixed – asap – right now, so that we don’t suffer. So what do we do?

2 things: We seek out Medicine, and more importantly, ask God for help.

Know this, as we said in the first part of this series, that it’s ok to be angry at a situation or season or a sickness. God is ok with your emotions, and God is in the middle of it no matter what. But the Scriptures also show us, time and again, that God heals. God makes broken things well. At least we know that he can. Which means we can ask for God to make us well.

Story after story after story: people came to Jesus to be made well. We don’t use these stories as formulas, but we can use them as encouragement to ask Jesus for the same thing: Healing.

Mark 2 is one of my favourite of these stories in the gospels. Let’s read it, and see where we land…

A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them.

  • This is probably the closest to a ‘home’ that Jesus had…
  • Imagine coming home to this? Or being home and a crowd envelops your home. Not fun for introverts, that’s for sure.
  • Jesus wasn’t holding some kind of healing service, he was simply teaching the word to them
    • The word? Kingdom of God. Connecting the spiritual dots in their lives.

Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on.

  • In our Easter text (Mark 8:22-25) we saw a similar thing: ‘some people’ brought a blind man to Jesus.
  • Here, some people bring a paralyzed man to Jesus.
  • We can’t get away from this: Some People are very important to our stories. We are important to other people’s stories.
    • Not everybody can get them selves to Jesus…and sometimes we can’t get ourselves to Jesus. God uses ‘some people’ to get us there. God uses us to get people to him.
  • ROOF = Obstacles
    • Beams, thatch, compact mud, messy (a basic 1st century roof)
    • They did what they could to bring their friend to the one who could heal him.

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, “Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

  • How do you think the man felt when he hears Jesus’ first statement about forgiveness?
    • Hey Jesus, I came for healing, not forgiveness!!!
  • This starts a bit of a spat between Jesus and the religious leaders…
    • Who does Jesus think he is?
    • Forgive sins???
    • Only God can do that? (exactly)
  • Why does Jesus throw in forgiveness, when the man is clearly there for healing???

Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

  • You gotta love this question: What’s harder? Forgiveness or Healing?
    • Forgiveness (inside/spiritual)
    • Healing (outside/physical)
  • “I, the son of man, have authority to forgive sins”
    • The reason I can heal, Jesus says, is because I can forgive
  • Healing is a sign that points to forgiveness
  • Healing always points to something greater
  • Physical Healing (now) is never the ultimate miracle. Forgiveness is.
  • This man gets a two for one special…
    • Jesus, even though he heals this man, wants us all to know that forgiveness is the healing we should long for, while still praying for and asking for healing.
  • When we know we are forgiven, we know that God is with us in our sickness & pain.

He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

  • our authentic desire when we ask for healing is twofold…
    • that we are well
    • that people are amazed with what God can do

When my dad wasn’t well, I asked him what he would do first, if God healed him. He said he’d go to work. Then he said, wait a minute, nope, I’d go tell my old friends what Jesus did to me and for me.

Know that I want nothing more than for my wife to be healed. I’m going to pray for that until it happens. But it can’t just be so that we get back to normal (though I so want to get back to normal, normal would be so good right now), but that the lives of others change because of her healing!!! (May it be so)

– – – – – – –

A few take homes from this story…

* We need some people in our lives to break the roof down and do what ever it takes to get us to Jesus.
Healing is a community thing

* Can we be those ‘people’ for others?

* Healing always points to something even bigger!
Forgiveness. Kingdom. God’s redemption. Our Salvation. Reconciliation. Justice.
Let it be a sign that reminds you how powerful God is.

* When physical healing doesn’t come?
1 Corinthians 12:9 ‘His grace is sufficient for me’

Be reminded that God is with you, in the middle of your sickness, in the middle of your pain and confusion, in the middle of your interruption.

– – – – – – – – – –

The Middle : Interruptions

Who has a friend with the unspiritual gift of interrupting?

Now that you’ve thought of someone…is it possible that you…you are that person?

Some of us need to remind ourselves to listen, not interject, pause, wait, then…speak.

“Be quick to listen and slow to speak”  Amazing advice from James 1.
(more on this in our summer series, Proverbs)

This post is not about learning how to be polite in our conversations as good listeners.

Rather, today is about interruptions, how we deal with them, what we learn from and through them, and…why God wants to be and needs to be in the middle of our interruptions.

– – – – – – –

Interruptions are awesome when…

  • the news is good
  • we have time for it
  • we perceive it as a blessing

Interruptions are not so good when…

  • the news is bad
  • we have no time for time
  • we perceive it as more of a curse

Good interruptions that hardly happen?

  • a knock at your door by someone you actually want to see (not weedman or enbridge gas)
  • unexpected money or a cheque or a work bonus/raise
  • anything good

Bad interruptions are…

  • traffic, car problems in general
  • someone butts in line and then takes forever
  • you get sick…at the wrong time, which there is of course, never a right time

I racked my brain to think about stories, mine or others, where interruptions turned out to be good. The reality is, those happenings are subtle, almost unnoticeable, unless we make them such.

What if…we viewed interruptions as opportunities…

  • to grow…to learn…to pause
  • to re-prioritize…to change direction

Because really, it’s not about the interruption, but how we view it, an use it.

I heard this a long time ago and have never forgotten it…

“God is in the business of interruptions”

This is true in 2 ways:
– God sends them our way.
– We invite God to be in the middle of them.



In Acts 9, we read about God interrupting of Paul’s life. So much of an interruption that his life and name changed after this crazy and mysterious moment in his life.

We pick it up this story in Acts 9:1…

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

  • Saul was a bad dude
  • Saul hated Jesus and the church
  • Saul was stuck in his religion

 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

  • talk about an interruption
  • flashing lights…falling of your horse
  • a voice…with directed words

The men travelling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone.  Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

  • no words to describe this by onlookers
  • Saul goes blind for 3 days
  • A very strong man, needs to be led by the hand of another person – humbling to say the least

In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

  • Ananias is also interrupted (vision)
  • ‘Yes Lord’ (important response)
  • How many crooked streets were there?
  • Go and place your hand on the one who’s been persecuting you??? Your enemy.

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

  • Jesus chooses Paul…communicates it via a huge interruption
  • Ananias assists Paul…does it because of an interruption
  • Ananias is so impacted by this that he calls Saul ‘brother’

Saul’s life changed. The church’s life was impacted. Jesus’ mission in the world blew open. We’re here today, gathering, learning, living out the ways of Jesus:


– – – – – – –

It’s never about if you’ll be interrupted, but will you let God use that interruption to make you better, to stretch you, to teach you?

Interruptions can give or teach you about…

  • Rest (forced to be bored)
  • Perspective (emergency)
  • Truth (wake up call)
  • Opportunity
  • Life & strength
  • Jesus (like paul)

Interruptions include…

  • Messiness and Mystery
  • Surprises
  • Lots and Lots of LEARNING

If we truly want to be used by God, we need to be interruptible.

– – – – – – – –

I believe that God is in the business of Interruptions. Do you?

This will be true in 2 ways:
– We believe that God sends them our way.
– We invite God to be in the middle of them.

What we view as an interruption, God can use as an opportunity.

Don’t ever waste an interruption.

God is in the middle of our interruptions…at least he can be, if we let him.

– – – – – – –

(This morning’s gathering was appropriately interrupted by a fire alarm:)