Satan himself was permitted to afflict the ancient sufferer Job in his very body.
So it is with the “daughter of Abraham” we meet in the 13th chapter of Luke. We are not told what God’s purpose was in allowing the poor woman to suffer. A loving God does not always tell us.
What we are told is how long she had suffered. Jesus refers to her as one “whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years.”
Some problems in your life and mine are long-term and persistent.
Noah endured the ridicule of his neighbors for at least a hundred years while building the ark.
Abraham waited 25 years for a promised son through whom the Savior would one day descend.
Jacob put up with his crooked uncle Laban for 20 years.
Moses endured 40 years of bone-chilling nights and sun-scorched days in the desert of Midian in preparation for the work God wanted him to do. He then spent another 40 years leading an ungrateful nation of whiners through the wilderness.
Paul asked God to remove what he called “a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me” Three times God turned down his request, saying, “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
As with the woman crippled and bent over for 18 longs years, some problems do not go away quickly. TV sitcoms condition us to look for immediate solutions to the crises in our lives – everything neatly put back in order in 30 minutes minus commercials. But real life is not like that.
One person struggles with unrelenting physical pain or weakness most of her life.
Another one’s faith is given a life-long workout in the gymnasium of a difficult marriage.
Still another must patiently endure “the long goodbye” of his life’s partner in a nursing home.
Some wait long years to see a prodigal son or daughter come home to God again.
“We consider blessed those who have persevered,” says James, pointing us to the pilgrim path that leads to our home above.
Someone once put it this way: “To grow tired is not tragedy if one is living by loving, dying by giving. The call to discipleship is to ‘come and die,’ usually not in one burst of effort or in a single pool of blood, but in the steady self-draining of life’s strength and energy.” That is very much what Jesus said too: “Take up your cross daily…”