I've always loved the story of the paralyzed man whose friends carried him to Jesus.
They knew Jesus was in town, and they knew Jesus was the only chance for their friend to walk again. So they carried him to the house where Jesus was preaching, only to find that there were so many throngs of people inside and surrounding the house that they couldn't get anywhere near their Healer.
So they climbed on the roof, dug a hole through the ceiling, and lowered their paralyzed friend into the room. When Jesus saw the faith of the friends, he forgave the man for his sins and told him to take up his mat and walk.
There's so much in this story, so many themes. Faith. Persistence. Forgiveness. Healing. Friendship.
But in the last six weeks, I've recognized another theme: Heaviness.
I bet the paralyzed man was heavy. "Dead weight" perhaps. He couldn't do anything for himself; we don't know the extent of his paralysis, but some translations refer to him as a paraplegic. His abilities were certainly and severely limited. He could do nothing without the help of his friends.
But they knew what he needed, they scooped up his mat, and they carried him to Jesus. And when the path wasn't easy, direct, or short, they didn't give up. They climbed on the roof, dug a hole (we're not talking about removing a few shingles), and lowered him into the room.
They loved him that much; they believed that deeply in his healing.
I've been thinking about how he felt to lay on that mat, to watch his friends work so hard, believe so much.
I bet his friends were sweaty. Maybe they were breathing hard with exhaustion. Maybe the friends traded places to redistribute the weight. Perhaps they had blisters on their hands.
I wonder about the thoughts of the paralyzed man.
"Oh, my, look at you. Look at all of you. I'm sorry you're so tired. I'm so sorry your hands hurt. I'm so sorry you have blisters. I'm sorry this is so hard. I'm sorry I'm so heavy. I wish I could do something. I wish I could help you... I wish I could help you carry me."
But he couldn't. He couldn't change his situation, he couldn't figure out how to weigh less. He couldn't help his friends. He simply had to let them love him.
But I imagine he prayed for their encouragement, for their rest, for the Lord's abundant blessing on them for their faith on his behalf.
I imagine he said many things to them. Or perhaps he simply thought the words, over and over.
"I'm sorry I'm so heavy. I'm sorry this is so hard. Thank you for carrying me. Thank you for loving me this much."