What I Want and What I Need
Matthew 9:2 …Some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven.”
When I go to God, I often treat him like Santa Claus, presenting him with my list of requests. It is not that it is a bad list. I do not pray for a new car. I just have a very specific idea of how the world around me should be so I let God know. It is not wrong to pray, asking God for what I want, but this story reveals the gap that often exists between that which I want and that which I need.
In the story, a paralyzed man was brought to Jesus, presumably for physical healing. Jesus had what this man wanted and the man had come to ask for it. Instead of physically healing him, Jesus used the opportunity as a lesson for those watching. Instead of giving the man what he wanted, Jesus healed him spiritually, forgiving his sins.
I can imagine the look of disappointment on the man’s face. It would be like me, as a kid, getting a bible instead of a toy for Christmas. Thanks Jesus, but I really just wanted to be healed…
The religious leaders in attendance were not impressed either. They recognized that Jesus was claiming to be God and accused him of blasphemy. Seeing that the scribes had taken his bait, Jesus asked them which was harder, to forgive sins or to heal physically?
The scribes, like the paralytic and like me, got it wrong of course. They saw the more impressive feat and the more important work to be physical healing. So, to show them who He was, Jesus healed the man’s body. He made the man whole, both spiritually and physically.
The fact that I too would have been more impressed by the physical healing betrays the gap between what I see as important and what God sees as important. I go to God with my wants and He always gives me what I need. The problem of course is, even my definition of what I need it different than God’s.
God, I need you to fix my predicament… No, I need to fix you. Ok, can’t you do both? It is through your predicament that you are being fixed. Nuts. Ok, thanks God.
Faith is keeping my eyes on God even when I am not getting what I want. Faith is realizing that God ultimately gives me what I need even when I cannot see it. I remember sitting in treatment, begging for God to get me home now so I could try to fix my life. I remember God telling me that what needed fixing was me. Looking back, I can see that I got exactly what I needed, but at the time, it was difficult to accept. Faith is continually looking to God, accepting that He knows, particularly when I do not.