Day 1:We often conceive of God based on our history and understanding, but God is greater than the small box we have Him in. In Mark 2:1-12, the paralyzed man may have expected physical healing. Jesus did something greater and healed his soul too. The pharisees thought that no man could be God, which fit what they had been taught and understood, and yet Jesus was saying and doing things only God could do. What expectations and preconceived notions do we have about God? Allow Jesus’ teaching to challenge you and break you out of these boxes. Accept that some passages in the Bible seem irreconcilable, and yet they are both proclaiming truths! There are other passages that are hard to reconcile with our life experience and understanding. Read Matthew 22:41-46 and consider an example of a scripture that made no sense at that time, but we now understand. Embrace some mystery in those passages that are hard to understand and allow them to challenge you to trust God more deeply.
Day 2:Sometimes circumstances happen differently than we expect, and God does things differently than we want. The paralyzed man and his friends probably weren’t expecting Jesus to say, “Your sins are forgiven.” Was that disappointing to them? What do we do when we encounter circumstances that don’t fit our vision of God and what we want Him to do? Do we trust him as Father and Creator even then? What is an example of a circumstance that has happened in your life that is not what you wanted or expected? Can you imagine what God might want you to have or learn from this circumstance? Read Romans 8:28-39 and consider that God is maturing us to be like Christ. Can you, will you trust that God knows what He is doing no matter what and his way is better?
Day 3:That Jesus saw forgiveness as the foremost need of a paralyzed man is amazing! Forgiveness is a powerful thing in our lives; it is one of our deepest needs. I have learned that in addiction treatment circles it has been said that the opposite of addiction is connection. That is, we have a deep need for connection and when appropriate connections are not formed in our lives we easily seek connection in ways leading to addictions. And yet when sin happens, what can restore connection except forgiveness? Doesn’t our Creator, our Father say that our deepest need is a restored relationship with Him, a need that is met by the death and resurrection of Jesus? Jesus’ death pays the penalty for the forgiveness of our sins and His resurrection proves that everything is ok again. The relationship is restored to all who would trust him. Meditate on Romans 4:24-5:2 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 and thank God for restoring your connection to him through Christ.
Day 4:Believing that I am forgiven by God can be a major challenge. I can accept on an intellectual level that I am forgiven, but actually believing that in the deepest recesses of my heart where I daily think and feel is not so easy. It is hardest when I sin. Can I believe then that I am forgiven? Am I even worthy of that? It is not about us being worthy of forgiveness, but about the work of Jesus God’s son to give us forgiveness. He is worthy, that is more than enough. So often in my “box” view of God I feel like God can’t forgive me because of ______, but if I can live better, then maybe I will be forgiven. Or I simply don’t feel forgiven, so I live as if I am not. He doesn’t forgive us on the basis what we have done. God forgives us on the basis of whatHehas done; Jesus’ death and resurrection in our place. Read Colossians 1:12-23, 2:13-14, Titus 3:3-9, and Psalm 103. As you read the passages above, view the greatness of God who has forgiven our sins. Accept what he says, trust Him in faith.
Day 5:God knows our deepest needs, even when things don’t happen like we want or expect. The paralyzed man wasn’t the only person who faced unmet expectations of God. Mary and Martha thought Jesus should come and heal Lazarus, but Jesus waited, Lazarus died (John 11:3-6, 21). The Israelites thought God had sent Moses to deliver them, but when Moses spoke to Pharaoh, things got worse (Exodus 4:29-5:9, 5:19-23). The lives of Joseph, David - the list could go on. In the midst of seemingly bad circumstances when we still don’t see the what we perceive as a good outcome - when our God who is in charge, is loving, and knows what we need better than we do is meeting our deepest needs in ways that we don’t want or expect - what do we do with that? Can we trust? Can we let God define what is good and what is best? Can we remember what David keeps telling himself in a bad situation? “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5) Read Psalm 42 and tell yourself, “I will yet praise Him.”