But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. (Matt. 9:6)

MANY MAY ONCE HAVE WONDERED how God could use someone like Fanny Crosby. Blind from infancy and living in the 1800s, her options were limited. Yet Fanny impacted the faith of millions. The hymns she wrote, such as “Blessed Assurance” and “To God be the Glory,” have proven timeless. But she said something interesting about her sight, something Jesus’ interaction with the paralyzed man showed He understood.

When Jesus met the man, His first concern wasn’t for the man’s disability. Often, we see the physical concern before we see the person behind it. But Jesus didn’t see a paralyzed man. He saw a man. A man whose soul needed healing. His first words were “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven”—which perhaps implies the man’s sin impacted him far more than his paralysis. Jesus certainly cared about the earthly, physical concerns. But man’s eternal need is primary.

Fanny Crosby understood this. She knew that God saw more in her than her physical condition. He saw a woman needing forgiveness, and one He could use, irrespective of her physical traits. She said, “If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.” Oh, God heals. But His greatest and most important healing is spiritual.

The next time you help someone with a physical need, meet a spiritual need, too.

Diane Gardner lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where she enjoys theater, street fairs, and watching the sun set with her husband.