The Outstretched Hand

Outstretched HandsHave you allowed your blessings to become your burdens?

Allowing our blessings to become our burdens is easily done. Almost a little too easy…

Our message this week, The Outstretched Hand, explores a moment of tension shared between Jesus and a group of Pharisees. A group of Pharisees ask Jesus if healing/curing on the sabbath is “lawful.” The encounter concludes with everyone witness the restoration of man’s hand, which had been withered.

This exchange between Jesus and the Pharisees offers Jesus the opportunity to share his understanding of “sabbath-keeping.”

Stepping back from the text, however, reveals something else is taking place: The ease with which blessings can become our burdens! 

The Sabbath was intended to be a day of rest and remembrance (think Deuteronomy 5:12-15), where the descendants of Abraham pause, rest, and remember how God restored their ancestor by rescuing them from slavery in Egypt and delivering them into the promised land…

These Pharisees approach Jesus with a question about healing upon the Sabbath. After Jesus shares his understanding of what is “lawful,” everyone was witness to the restoration of a man’s hand, which was withered.

The hand of this man was restored to health and functionality. While the restoration of this man’s hand may appear to be nothing other than a demonstration of the authority of Jesus, this particular act speaks in a greater sense to the will of God and the hope of God’s kingdom.

The will of God is to restore.

The hope of the kingdom is the restoration of humanity to God and one another.

What better way to rest and remember the goodness of God, who restored the people of Israel, than to witness the restoration of one who is lost, broken, or withered?

But, there is still more…

The blessings of this man was the restoration he would receive from God through Jesus Christ. The blessing was revealed within the burden of this man – restoration arose from the withered. The blessing was hidden within the burden.

The tendency to allow our blessings to become our blessings comes a little too naturally. While we waste our time being overburdened by our blessings, we fail to realize God is willing to reveal an abundance of blessing hidden within our actual burdens…

Here is the thing, though, that is really interesting…

Accepting God’s revelation of blessing within in our burdens is not a matter of reaching out our hand. The man in the story was restored only after he “stretched out his hand.” The blessings to come from our burdens are not hand outs, they require being stretched. There is often a little bit of pain, discomfort, effort in receiving the blessings hidden in our burdens.

Don’t allow your blessings to become your burdens; rather, allow yourself to be stretched so that God might reveal the blessings hidden within your burdens.

Don’t be stressed! Be stretched. 

Click the following link to listen to The Outstretched Hand

 

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