Life sucks at times. There is no way around it. Times get tough, plans fall apart, savings dry up, and we are left feeling a level of desperation we never thought possible. We have stretched and reached beyond the end of the rope and begin to fall into a pit of despair without hope. Ever been there?
In these moments, we tend to grasp at straws for answers, assign blame to another, or turn in upon ourselves.
Where are You God? We tend to conclude that God must not be listening because if He were, life wouldn’t suck. If God is Love how He can allow disturbing and evil deeds to interfere with my best life? Unfortunately, there are no easy answers to these questions. God does not expect us to figure them all out either. He simply wants us to seek Him, to leave fear behind, and Believe.
This isn’t an easy position to find ourselves.
Two people at a level of critical mass desperation with nowhere else to turn, sought out the one man about whom the stories were unbelievable, almost magical.
Jesus spoke with desperate people, individuals, with whom He intentionally Comforted.
Let’s look at two people who met Jesus with nothing left to lose.
A Desperate Faith leads Two People to Freedom
Jesus spent most of His ministry on the move; He walked or sailed on boats all around the area we call Israel. Even a journey of few miles took a long time on foot. And for Jesus it took even longer because everywhere He went huge crowds followed.
His very presence was peaceful to some, burdensome for others, and confusing for most. Yet the crowds followed to hear His teaching, witness His miracles, and experience a healing touch.
Jesus touched shore after teaching, healing, and being rejected in the land of the Gerasenes. He is probably tired and in need of a recharging nap/meal. But the crowds are there and in His compassion, He tends to their needs.
Jairus, a father and a leader in the synagogue, pleads (Mk 5:23) with Jesus to heal his sick daughter who is close to dying. In the time of Moses, the Israelites wandered in the desert on their way to the Promised Land (Israel). The synagogue was built as a mobile sanctuary for God (Ex 25-26). Sacrifices, teachings, and rituals were conducted here and it was considered a very sacred place. In Jairus’ time the Temple was the mainstay for rituals and Passover worship, but not everyone could make the long journey weekly to Jerusalem. The synagogue served as a local worship area and held a great deal of Holy importance for each city.
Therefore, Jairus knew the prophecies about Messiah. He knew the power of Jesus, but did not go to Him first! He went as a last resort. He only went to Jesus when he was most desperate and his daughter was dying.
How many times do we wait until life sucks beyond our ability to cope before we approach God in prayer? Why do we have to get desperate before we pray?
But upon meeting Jesus and making his request for Jesus to heal his daughter, Jesus does not get exasperated. He wasn’t impatient or rude. Mark records that Jesus simply went with him. His desperate faith was enough.
Jesus’ journey is interrupted by a desperate woman who was unclean. She had an illness that had plagued her for 12 years and the doctors only made it worse. To be unclean meant that she could not touch, or be touched, by anyone for 12 years without making the other person unclean. Mark tells us that she had spent everything on medicines, doctors, and treatments that only made her worse. Her one last effort was to follow Jesus, at great personal risk, and hope for a touch of His tassel, or hem.
Immediately upon touching Jesus’ hem she was healed. Just as quickly Jesus stops and searches for the one who touched Him. Petrified, the woman falls at His feet. She, an unclean woman, touched a Rabbi. Under the Law, this made Jesus unclean and He should be furious. And it is in His right to punish her severely. Not to mention that He is in a hurry to save Jairus’ daughter.
But Jesus stops and speaks to her. “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mk 5:34) He has compassion on her and declares her clean. With fear and desperation, she sought Jesus as a last resort. She exhausted her funds, her savings, only to be worse off than when she started.
That is what the world can offer. It offers band-aids to complex social issues, it offers a numbness to pain, and it offers distraction from the real issues and pain underneath. Jesus offers to take our pain and give us peace. Jesus offers to take our uncleanness and give us holiness. Jesus offers to take our loneliness and give us a family. Jesus offers to take our suffering and give us freedom!
But, Jesus isn’t finished! Jairus falls into despair. Word has come that his daughter is dead. Jesus, however, carries on toward the house. He tells Jairus not to fear, ‘just believe.’ In pure trust, there is no fear. In pure faith, there is only belief and the courage to act on it.
Jesus brings his daughter back to life simply by touching her hand and calling her to rise. Jesus’ final instruction is for the family to remain silent about what happened and to feed the little girl. Despite Jairus’ fear and desperate faith Jesus granted His request.
And it made all the difference.
Two people who were living in a terrible set of circumstances sought Jesus. They didn’t seek Him first, they weren’t His disciples, they were simply at the end of their line and grasping at straws. Jesus didn’t condemn them for their fear or their lack of strong faith. In fact, Jesus informs the woman that it was her faith that healed her. She had just enough to risk going out in public, risk the deadly consequences that awaited her if she were caught. She had just enough to reach out and touch Jesus.
When we find ourselves in a desperate set of circumstances, may we have the courage and the faith to cry out to Jesus. His presence and His power will be sufficient for us.
We must not fear, just believe.
And when we find ourselves in the presence of desperate people living in a difficult set of circumstances; may we reach out to them. Let us follow Jesus’ example and not become exasperated, impatient or condemning. But may we be so compassionate, so patient, and so full of God’s Presence that we radiate love and minister to them. Where is God? He is in the middle of the difficulty and He is sending His people out to those who need hope, love, a personal touch, and the Joys of salvation and freedom.
That is how Jesus changed the world.
Are we ready to change the world?
Captain Lauren Boatman is a dedicated servant of Christ who has been a pastor in The Salvation Army for thirteen years. Currently, Lauren has the privilege of serving others in Alabaster, Alabama.
The Salvation Army in Alabaster is actively engaging members of the local community through events, social services, and Bible Teaching. We welcome you to join us for Sunday Worship or engage with us through volunteering.
The Alabaster Salvation Army Corps is located across from the Alabaster YMCA at 108 Plaza Circle. Drop by Monday through Friday from 9am-3pm or visit our Sunday worship service at 3pm. We would love to meet and talk with you!