By Robert Halsey Pine
“Why do you raise such questions in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and take your mat and walk’? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…I will say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” (Mark 2:1-12 NRSV).
One of the most significant experiences in my brain surgery for the removal of a tumor was the specific action of God in forgiving my sins. The beginning of my healing was this forgiveness. I had the sense of God scrubbing me with a wire brush and plenty of soap so that once He rinsed me off, I was spotless. It was like having a new lease on life. It was as if He could not heal my malady without first cleansing me of my sins.
Which was easier for God – to forgive me of my sins or to return me to my full-time work and recreation? The answer is most likely that I had to repent of my sins before a healing could take place. The situation was life-threatening. In order for me to be restored to my natural life, I had to reconcile myself with my maker. I was not fit for saving the way that I was. Although I wanted to know God better, my sin was in the way. This collection of sin had to go. Thanks be to God for His sacrifice of Christ Jesus for my sin. I felt truly “saved.”
One of these miracles can be seen while the other is not apparent. One is easy to prove while the other is not so easy. Forgiveness is the sine qua non of redemption. We must forgive and be forgiven if we are to be delivered from evil. Jesus said, “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matthew 6:14-15 NRSV).” The healing process requires us to configure our spiritual life in a way that prepares us one day at a time for the tests and suffering that will come.
A friend of mine and I recently were talking about this very thing – about how important preparation and a positive attitude are in God’s healing of us. We come up short if we wait until we are in distress before we seek God’s help. We must seek Him every day so that no matter what comes, we will be prepared and positive. God will perform the miracles for us if we lay a good foundation and build on it every day. We must forgive to be forgiven, and forgiveness of our sin must precede our healing. Prepare and ask, and it will be given unto you.
Robert Halsey Pine was born at Newark, Ohio in 1943. He is a graduate of Northeastern University and completed the program of Theological Education by Extension: Education for Ministry, School of Theology, the University of the South.