Learning From Lameness

Matthew 15:29-31:  Jesus went on from there and walked beside the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the crowd wondered, when they saw the mute speaking, the crippled healthy, the lame walking, and the blind seeing. And they glorified the God of Israel.

We had the privilege and massive responsibility of owning a horse for our daughters for a while.  They were heavily involved in horseback riding and loved time in the barn caring for horses and took great pride in caring for their very own horse.  Unfortunately, our spunky mare was often unable to work because she came up lame.

Lameness in horses is defined as "an abnormal stance or gait caused by either a structural or a functional disorder of the horse's loco-motor system". A horse suffering from lameness will be unwilling or unable to stand or move normally. Sometimes it’s general soreness and other times it’s the result of a much bigger problem – maybe an injury or illness.  Because horses can’t tell us what’s going on, veterinarians put the horse through many tests to get answers.  Our horse often went through several exams where she would be asked to walk, trot, or canter and we would carefully watch her gait to see which leg or shoulder was the culprit.

When you have had a horse who was lame as often as ours it becomes easy to spot other horses with injuries and lameness within the barn or at horse shows.  Sadly, through our experience we became experts at pointing out a horse that was struggling.  I’ve noticed this also applies to people.  It’s a whole lot easier to notice the person who’s limping along spiritually or emotionally when you’ve been there yourself.

I was once at an event with family and friends.  My friend confided in me that she pretty sure an individual in attendance was drunk.  We asked her how did she know and she said because her nose knows.  My friend grew up with an alcoholic father so she’s quite sensitive to the behavior and smell of someone who’s been hitting the bottle pretty hard.  This friend can spot alcoholism easily when others might not notice.

Maybe you don’t much about alcoholics but you might know what a physically or emotionally battered wife looks like.  You might notice a child may have a learning disability because of the hours you struggled with your own child.  Perhaps you can tell by a woman’s shopping cart that money is tight because your own basket looked similar a few years back.  If we’re honest about our own brokenness and hurts it’s really not hard to see there are people who need to be seen.

We aren’t Jesus but if we are believers, His spirit lives within us.  I do believe in miraculous healings but I think the miracles of today are when people use their own lameness or brokenness to see others, acknowledge them, stand by them without judgement and sit with them in their messes.  Our society is so polished and perfect and filtered that people are walking around lame and crippled and no one is seeing them.  I imagine they feel a lot like my feisty mare who often hurt but couldn’t tell me with words.

What if we made more time to learn from and acknowledge our own lameness and then notice and minister those around us who might have the same struggles?Onlookers might be amazed and look with wonder and perhaps even glorify the God of Israel.