Get Your Healing, Then Move On
Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
In the middle of all the encouragements that Hebrews offers that motivate us to move forward, there is a quotation from Isaiah 35 and Proverbs 4:26-27. Hebrews 12:12 harkens back to Isaiah’s encouragement to the anxious and oppressed that our “God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you” (35:4b). This is followed by a cascade of Messianic promises of all the good things our King will bring with Him when He comes.
Proverbs 4 encourages us to follow God’s wisdom, particularly in making sure that the path we are on is strong, firm, and clear of obstacles.
We can’t run our race if our hands are hanging down, as the imagery is taken from a race where we receive a baton from those who ran before. Feeble knees also make for poor running. We also can’t run a good race on a broken-up or muddy road, which will either slow us down or injure us along the way.
So why this almost screeching halt in a portion of scripture that is building in energy and excitement, working to encouraging us to get going and finish well? We get some direction from the verses immediately following, where we are first told to be careful of a root of bitterness, which (from the words directly before it) involves failing to obtain the grace of God. Most people with this root are so self-centered that they are only thinking of their anger and desire for revenge, but scripture says they “cause trouble, and by it defile many” (Hebrews 12:15).
Straight paths are the paths of God’s wisdom. Specifically, the scriptures warn us against sexual immorality and being unholy, which Proverbs demonstrates over and over again take us from the path God has for us and onto dangerous ground.
So before we continue our race, we need to make sure that our pathway is clear, and that we are healed from the injuries of our past. Otherwise, as the runner with drooping hands and feeble knees painfully demonstrates, we can do damage to ourselves and others. We must continue our race from a place of strength and wholeness; otherwise we might become spiritually dislocated—technically able to move forward, but painfully and continuing to injure ourselves as we move.
As anyone who has surgery can attest, the healing process can be painful, and the point isn’t simply to stop moving forward because it has been hurting. The point is to get fixed what is broken—or healed from what is hurting us—and tenderly exercise our way back to continuing the race once again, this time from a place of health and strength.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You are so invested in us and in our walk that You encourage us to stop and strengthen ourselves sometimes, and to get the healing we need to move forward again well. Please deliver me from any root of bitterness I might have—I don’t want to defile anyone or cause trouble. Show me where I need Your healing and how to get it. Amen.