On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity. Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God. (Luke 13:10-13)
Scoliosis is the most common medical condition causing permanent spine bending and severe pain. My dear mother-in-law suffered from it. Despite her pain, she welcomed guests into her home, worked out at a gym, and swam. She wrote a newspaper article on healthy eating and even ran races into her sixties. She never considered herself a victim and rarely complained. She always stood tall even though she couldn’t. This woman Jesus healed reminds me of her.
Luke pointed out she was crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. Most likely she had the medical condition since she was young and it progressed. Luke, our doctor, would have known that, so I think he spoke of the spirit of shame people inflict on us. Petty people made fun of her and we’ll see tomorrow the temple leader treated her with disdain. Even though their sins punished her, she didn’t consider herself a victim. If she had, she would’ve stayed home complaining.
Jesus admired her as he admires all who are conquerors. He chose her for healing and asked her to step forward, treating her with dignity. In verse 16, he called her a daughter of Abraham, indicating she was deserving. He touched her, indicating he felt compassion. Jesus could’ve healed her from afar but didn’t because her life was worthy of distinction. He doesn’t want us to claim victimhood. He wants us to stand tall. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us … (nothing) in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:37-39)
(Note: this verse isn’t about those who have been mentally or physically abused. Always seek God and the medical help He provides. It’s always possible to be a conqueror.)
Father God, thank you for this scripture prompting me to treat everyone with dignity as Jesus did. Keep the spirit of shame, more crippling than disease, away from me and my family. Help me to be a victor not a victim because nothing can separate me from Your love. Remind me to stand tall because I’m your child. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.