“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 NIV)

In this text we find Jesus teaching in a synagogue. Among the people who had come to listen is a crippled woman. This woman had been debilitated by a spirit which caused her to be bent over. Her social status and her condition caused her several problems and made life very difficult for her. During the time in which she lived women were second class citizens. Her physical condition caused a number of problems including the inability to earn a living through work, little or no chances for personal relationships or marriage, and very limited mobility. The way she walked, slept, ate, washed, dressed and cared for her body was always a challenge.

The text says she had this condition for 18 years. Apparently she was not born this way and the condition fell upon her. If she had been born this way, then this condition would have been normal to her. But she has a mental point of reference that reminds her that things used to be different. She used to be able to look people in the eye. She used to be able to stand in front of a mirror and fix her hair and clothes. But 18 years ago, she experienced a new normal. She may have grown accustomed to being crippled, but that is not how life started out. If her social status and physical condition did not have her bent out of shape, then her memories of better days certainly did.

There are many people in this community who because of social status, psychological, or physical conditions have become crippled and bent out of shape. I would also argue that some have become crippled by an evil spirit that has taken hold of them and bent them out of shape. Among those in this situation, there are a few who have memories of better days and yearn for those days as well as a day when we can all walk upright because we have all overcome our infirmities and adversities. Our goal should be to straighten up our lives and our community. The Lord always offers us a way to straighten up. Let us look at the woman in this text: 1) She responded to the invitation of Jesus — no excuses, no hesitation, no doubt; 2) She received His grace — after 18 years of bondage, she proudly became a free woman; and 3) She rejoiced at her deliverance — she gave praise to the one who straightened her up and restored her.

Just as this woman offered Jesus her praise for what he did for her, when Moses and the children of Israel saw what the Lord did for them they sang a song to the Lord. They said: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Their response to God’s work on their behalf was worship and praise. They rejoiced over what God had done.

God is able to do abundantly all we ask and even think. If the Lord can open the Red Sea, he can open doors of opportunity. If the Lord can call forth a dead man from the grave, he can redeem drug dealers and gang-bangers who we have written off. Let us run the race that is set before us. The race to save our families, the race to save our children, the race to save our schools, and the race to save our community. Let us look to Jesus and straighten up!

Furman Miller is pastor of Weston Chapel A.M.E. Church in Greenwood and a graduate of Erskine Theological Seminary with a Master’s of Divinity degree. He can be reached at 864-344-3517.