"No obstacles are insurmountable when God commands and we obey"
- - Heber J. Grant
November 27, 2013
Lessons from a Lowered Couch
by Kathryn Grant

One of my favorite New Testament stories is of a man afflicted with palsy. Smith’s Bible Dictionary tells us palsy is "the loss of sensation or the power of motion, or both, in any part of the body." His condition was apparently so serious that he was bedridden. We can imagine how hard this affliction would have been to bear.

The man had four faithful friends who carried him on a couch to see Jesus. A crowd had gathered at the home where Jesus was, to hear Him preach. And it must have been quite a crowd — "many were gathered together, insomuch that there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door." (Mark 2:2.)

When the friends got there, they couldn't even get close to Jesus to ask Him to help the suffering man.

In my mind's eye, I can see the friends asking themselves, "What do we do now?" They were so close, but not close enough. I can imagine them thinking, discussing, asking "What if?"

And then they came up with a plan: "And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus." (Luke 5:19.)

Jesus' initial response was, perhaps, unexpected: When He “saw their faith,” he did not immediately bless the man with physical health, but said instead, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” (Mark 2:5.)

Then, after a short discussion with some unbelieving scribes, He said to the man, "I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God." (Mark 4:11-12.)

I love a number of things about this account:

  • It’s a wonderful illustration of the power of friendship. The four friends cared enough to carry their friend some distance, on his couch, to seek healing for him.

  • It demonstrates determination. The friends looked for solutions and found a way instead of finding an excuse.

  • It shows the power of creativity. The friends saw beyond the obvious to get help for their friend.

  • It describes how friends bring other friends to the Savior for healing. The scriptures tell us that the Savior saw their faith, not just his (the afflicted man's) faith.

  • It highlights the importance of spiritual wellness in addition to physical wellness: Jesus forgave the man's sins before lifting his physical affliction.

  • It teaches how faith enables divine blessings.

This account encourages me when I’m trying to achieve a worthy goal. There is a caveat, though: I've found that I can get very persistent about a goal that I want, but that turns out not to be in line with the Lord's will.

In any endeavor, we need to do all we can to align our will with God's. Then we can exercise faith, avoid giving up, and find creative ways to accomplish worthy goals and bless the lives of others.

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About Kathryn Grant

Kathryn Grant is a user assistance professional with a passion for usability and process improvement. She also loves family history and enjoys the challenge and reward of building her family tree.

As a child, she lived outside the United States for four years because of her father's job. This experience fueled her natural love of words and language, and also taught her to appreciate other cultures.

Kathryn values gratitude, teaching, learning, differences, and unity. She loves looking at star-filled skies, reading mind-stretching books, listening to contemporary Christian music, attending the temple, and eating fresh raspberries.

Kathryn teaches Sunday family history classes at the BYU Family History Library, and presents frequently at family history events. For more information, visit her Family History Learning Resources page

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