At the Table with the Sick

by Bryan Marvel

Read Luke 5:27-32

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come

to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (v31-32)

When I get sick, I resist going to the doctor at all costs. At most, I try to catch a few extra hours of sleep on the front-end or back-end of my day, but typically, I just push through.

A few years ago, I was sicker than I could ever remember. When it was all said and done, I was laid up for about seven days. On day one, I left work early thinking by the next day I would be back to my usual self. On day two, I came into work late still trying to tough it out. I spent the first two hours of my day trying to get some things done while lying on the couch in my office. Eventually, my coworkers made me go home until I was fully recovered.

By day three, my wife had rightly lost all compassion toward me saying I was a fool for not scheduling an appointment to see a doctor.

I hate going to the doctor. I hate the thought of wasting a day making an appointment and sitting in a waiting room when I could be getting stuff done. I hate admitting that I can’t muster through on my own. I hate the thought of identifying with the sick. Admitting I'm sick would be admitting defeat.

At the core of it, I tend to live with the belief that it’s not okay to not be okay. I’m not sure where I developed this belief. And while I don’t intellectually believe it’s true, practically, I live as though it is.

I’m not the only one who thinks this way. As a pastor, I find many people in the church believe the same thing. Maybe not in regard to our physical well-being, but definitely with our spiritual well-being.

But Jesus has a different belief. He believes that it’s okay not to be okay. He’s quick to say in Luke’s gospel that He’s not interested in spending time with people who have it all together (v31-32). People who never struggle. People whose lives are in tip-top shape.

He actually says He’s come to spend time with the spiritually sick and needy. Those whose lives are a mess. Those who can’t clean up their act or pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.

There is an old hymn that speaks to this very idea. The song begins with an invitation.

Come ye sinners, poor and needy

Weak and wounded, sick and sore

Jesus ready stands to save you

Full of pity, love, and power

My favorite line in the song is:

If you wait until you’re better

You will never come at all

With Jesus, it’s okay not to be okay, but He won’t leave us there forever. He’s willing to meet us in our brokenness, no matter how bad it is, in order to make us well.

However, we first have to admit that we need help. When I was laid up in bed for six days, I had to be the one to make the phone call to schedule an appointment with the doctor. I had to take the initiative and admit that I needed help. Only after I did was I able to turn the corner and get well.

So, don’t wait to come to Jesus until you’re better, because without Him you can’t get better. With Jesus, it’s okay not to be okay. He’s ready to receive you just the way you are.

Reflection:

1. Where do you see it’s difficult in your own life to admit a need?

2. What is the turning point for you when you’re finally able to say you need help?

3. Besides Jesus, who else can you turn to for help when you’re in need?