“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”– Matthew 11:28-30
My dad tells the story of competing in a relay-style triathlon. As a former competitive swimmer, he was elected for that leg of the competition—even though it had been 10-plus years since he’d swum with any seriousness. As he hauled his waterlogged body out of the lake, he gasped out loud, “About halfway through it felt like a piano fell on my back!”
Someone not familiar with that figure of speech was shocked. “How on earth did you finish the race with a piano on your back?”
Perhaps you’ve never heard that phrase either but you’ve probably felt that way. And while the phrase is usually used by a coach urging an athlete to physically push harder, it can certainly be applied emotionally, spiritually and relationally as well.
Ever felt like you had a piano on your soul? Were you crushed low? (Psalm 34:18)
Your heart can stoop so low that it’s impossible to lift your head and see the light at the end of the tunnel or the sunrise on the horizon. Or maybe, you don’t even realize it. It’s become such a familiar weight, you’ve adjusted, you don’t even realize your disability.
In Luke 13, Jesus met such a woman. In this case, unlike the woman with the emission of blood and other stories, the woman didn’t reach out to Jesus. She didn’t come with her burden and plead with him to heal her or finger the edge of his robe.
No, Jesus spoke to her first. He called her over to him and said, “Woman, you are freed from your disability.” Then, he laid his hands on her and she stood up.
In the Greek, the word translated disability or “sickness” is astheneia. It can be applied either physically or of the soul. In the second case it means: want of strength and capacity requisite to understand a thing, to do things great and glorious, to restrain corrupt desires or to bear trials and troubles.
Two thousand sixteen marks 18 years since I last entered a treatment center for anorexia. God has greatly redeemed me, both physically and spiritually and every day I’m grateful for my life of freedom.
I don’t know how many years this marks since the darkest moments in my marriage. That healing has been a slow process too, ups and downs, but today we stand on the firmest ground ever and truly enjoy life together. God is good!
It’s been almost exactly a year since I miscarried our first baby. That too, God has healed slowly and salved the loss with a second pregnancy and our baby girl is due this Sunday! Most of the time, I think I’ve healed from that, but if I allow my heart to “go there” it’s still raw.
So this morning, as I read Jesus’ words to the woman who had been bent over for 18 years, I heard them fresh for me. “Abby, you are freed from your disability.”
Attentively, I searched my heart, “God, how am I disabled?” Because of each of those things mentioned, and others, I realized I have walked soul-hunched for most of the last 18 years, not fully expanding myself within the limitless freedom and space afforded me through Christ.
I think most women battle a feeling of inferiority at times. With no career (by choice), supported by my husband, I often feel I lack the capacity to understand things. I’m not smart enough, useful enough, driven enough, busy enough … (ever felt that way?)
Along those same lines, what have I done that is great and glorious? On top of that, for years I couldn’t even feed myself appropriately. How could I be capable of greater things? Besides, I failed my first baby; I couldn’t even carry him or her to term—my body failed on the most basic level.
Unable to restrain corrupt desires. Don’t we all deal with this? For me, I see how I regularly disobey God’s command not to worry. And my mind often runs unstrained through the hapless land of “what ifs”. Faithless.
Lastly, who doesn’t feel they lack the ability to stand up under trials and troubles? In the wake of what ifs and inferior feelings, I am often convinced that I would die if I faced another miscarriage or I lost my marriage or … could Christ possibly be enough or would I simply crumple and die beneath the weight—this piano on my back?
“Woman, you are freed from your burden.”
Freed? That Greek word covers all English inferences, everything from: pardon for a debt, forgiven, set free and loosed to indulgently release a prisoner … every form of freedom you might be longing for is afforded in this simple word from Jesus. “Freed.”
The woman didn’t question, in fact, there’s no reference of her speaking a word. She simply stood up. Jesus placed his hands on her and she stood up. Then, she began praising God.
Can you and I do that? Can we simply hear this word from Jesus (“All scripture … is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” 2 Timothy 3:16), feel His presence with us through the Holy Spirit, stand up and glorify Him for what has been done?
What is weighing you down? If your honest, is it some burden you didn’t even realize was there? What piano is on your back?
The words have already been spoken. The gentle pressure of your Savior’s hands is upon you. All that remains is to shut your mouth and bite back your excuses, stand up, glorify God and begin to live free.
Live in the knowledge of the truth that through Christ you have the strength and capacity to: understand things, do great and glorious things, resist temptation and bear up under any trial or trouble.
I promise, the longer you stand up straight, it will get easier!
♡ If you enjoyed this story, I’m sure you’ll love this too → Praising In the Storm of Miscarriage: When God Gives and Takes Away