When my wife and I welcomed into the world our fourth child, the hospital gave me a numbered plastic bracelet identifying me as her father. It was a symbol of joy. A second bracelet was snapped on my wrist a week later when we had to have her admitted back into the hospital because she turned orange—like a little Cheeto. Her tiny liver was still learning to keep up with its workload.
For something as common and treatable as jaundice, I must tell you that I felt very lonely before God during that time. That second bracelet was a symbol of the blues—“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen… ” I have expectations for how I believe the Lord should deal with me. So do you, I’m sure. I expect Him to shelter me and those I love from hardship. I bet you do too. What do we do when those expectations are not met?
Today’s text says that, whether or not our expectations are met, we should do the same thing: depend on God’s kindness.
Imagine how Mephibosheth must have felt—the grandson of the deposed king, crippled when his nurse tried to flee with him, now living in hiding from the new, rival king he presumed wanted him dead. Imagine how he felt about the hand he’d been dealt. Imagine how terrified he must have been when David, powerful and victorious, sent for him. Imagine his prayers as the soldiers carried him back to face the king.
Nobody knows the trouble.
What Mephibosheth received from David was mercy and grace. But it was a special kind of mercy and grace. He was given a permanent seat at the king’s table like one of the king’s sons. But because he was unable to walk, never once did he come to that table without help. He spent his life being carried in the arms of another.
This is where my heart wanted to rebel when we had to return to the hospital with our little girl. Often we want God’s care, but on our terms. We cry out, “If you really want to restore me, let me walk on my own.” But the King says, “If you really want to be restored and have a seat at my table, let me carry you.” God does not want to give us autonomy from Him. He doesn’t heal us in such a way that we don’t need Him anymore. The desire for autonomy from God is what got us into trouble in the first place (Genesis 3:1-7).
Restoration does not come through God making us strong enough to live without Him. His mercy causes us to lean hard on His grace with all we have and are. But it also liberates us to know that we are not dead dogs to Him, as Mephibosheth said, but we are His sons and daughters. And because we are, His healing will include even deeper levels of dependency on Him, not autonomy.
We cannot bring ourselves before His throne. We must be carried. But beloved, we are. By Him. Always.
Written by Russ Ramsey