Can you imagine it? The first time you were set free? Well maybe it's hard for you, but I remember. I was so weighed down, my heart hurt. There was no escaping the unkind words, the pain and torment of my body. People would push me away, like the could catch what I had just by touching me. I didn't know a kind touch or word. I was always sent on my way. Leave get further away and all the time it's weighing me down more, making it impossible to stand.
Then came the strange day. I went to the synagogue because I hoped that regular attendance might make a difference. The sin of my life which weighed on me, loaded me down, bent my body might somehow be eased. Maybe I could someday know which sin had done this to me. There was someone visiting, he was so calm, so... Well all I could really see were his feet. I knew though and he didn't continue on and leave me. He touched me. Me, the untouchable. Me, the person who people avoided. Me, a woman. He laid his hands on me and the pain ceased. The burden of my soul ended. I was free.
What do you do when all that weight is taken off you? Why you praise. One of the Psalms. "Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love." Ps 103:1-8
Start again. But then the leader of the synagogue was talking. I kept right on praising. He was trying to make it seem like a sin this had happened. That couldn't be though. I'd been set free. I felt the words of my praise get small, almost stop. Then this man, Jesus he told the leader he was a hypocrite because even he would give his ox a drink. Not only that he called me, me a daughter of Abraham, and asked him didn't I deserve more kindness.
Well if that isn't a reason for more praise? More Psalms. More mercy, more grace. I was healed that day, but I also was claimed. A daughter of Abraham!
The Psalms are so honest. Windows to the soul of the writer. They give us praise, sorrow, anger, lostness and all the questions a soul in pain might ask. The woman who was healed that day praised God, continually. In spite of the condemning synagogue leaders words. In spite of Jesus answer to it. She was free and she wanted to praise the one who freed her.
Have you ever been set free? Free from a constant worry, free from someone who persecuted you, free. It's a wonderful feeling. To not be weighed down with worry. To not feel possessed and not your own. To feel the blessing of living fully. Free. It can lift you to the heights. It makes you want to share joy all around. What better way to say it than a Psalm. A blessing to the One who sets us all free. And Jesus not only sets the woman free of her infirmity, he also claims her as an inheritor of the faith. A daughter of Abraham. Something new. More praise.
Do you have praise to offer today? Maybe you have a burden today instead. Lift it up with all the truthfulness of your soul and see what it sets free in you. To know someone is with you, to know you are claimed by God, to know you are not alone. Today we celebrate feeling free. Today we praise God for freeing us. Today we hand all that weighs us up to God and release it at the cross. Be free. Be God's child and spread the praise.