10/24/2006

Don't Stop Believin'...

Ever since I was a little, I've always had a problem accepting things as truth "just because". Whenever my mom or dad would suffice something they said with "because I said so", it would drive me crazy. I think that this may have been because I've always had a curiousity for understanding into why something is that way that it is. Why does this work like that? Why is this done that way and not this way? Why does so-and-so behave in such a way? I've always been driven by the question of why. Sometimes to the annoyance of others. And it's not as if I'm trying to get underneath people's skin, I just genuinely want to understand.

I've been dealing with this a lot lately. Something kind of unexpected shook out in my life and I've tried my best to understand the whys of it, but I keep hitting a wall.

A little while ago, I began reading through the book of Mark. I think that Mark is the least read of all the Gospel accounts for me. I came across a story in Mark 5:21-43 that spoke to me about understanding and belief, and how, sometimes, they fit together. And sometimes they don't. Pretty big stuff at the time. But, this past week, God brought it to mind two other times. Once when I taught from this story at a staff devotional. And once when I taught it to my small group guys.

The funny thing is, that even in the midst of my quest for understanding, I couldn't recognize my lack of faith. Here's an excerpt from my journal. It may or may not help to clarify what I'm thinking. I've made some notes to it to signify present learnings.

Mark 5:21-43
What God said to me: This passage is interesting because, like a good movie, there is a story that takes place within a story. First you have Jairus’ request of Jesus to heal his daughter. Then, on his way there, you have his encounter with the woman who had been hemorrhaging (or as the TNIV says: suffering) for 12 years. Two things in this passage strike me.

One, I can’t help but notice the woman’s humility in approaching Jesus. According to the text, she had exhausted every resource she had in finding healing from her ailment, yet to no avail. Nothing had worked. And apparently, the care she had received from other doctors had only made her worse. (vs. 26) And yet, as Jesus passed through her town, she reached out for him. In the midst of a crowd of people forcing themselves closer to him, she reaches out for a piece of his robe. I think that the context of that reach is really important. All around Jesus you have people crowding and pushing their way to the front to be the one beside Jesus. They want to be beside him. They wanted to be the one who saw what he was going to do next. And nobody was going to get in their way. And yet, this woman just wanted one touch. I kind of picture her being lower to the ground than the others. Waiting for any hole in the crowd behind Jesus to appear, she immediately squeezes herself into it until, eventually, she makes her way just behind him. And with, what to her, must have been an enormous amount of energy, she reaches between arms and waists just to touch a corner seam of Jesus’ robe. She didn’t try to get before him and plead her case. She knew that just a touch would do it. It almost seems like she didn’t consider herself important enough to waste his time. (Actually, upon closer inspection of the next couple of verses [33] it looks like she may have been afraid to talk to him.) She obviously recognized Jesus’ power. Maybe that’s why she was afraid to face him. In any event, she is brought to Jesus upon his realization that someone has touched him, and it has caused power to leave him. The Bible says that she tells him what happened as she trembled with fear. But Jesus leaves her with a recognition of her faith. "Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering. " Jesus heals her in an amazing display of her faith and his power.

Two, in this passage, specifically in the healing of Jairus’ daughter, we see the fourth mention of fear in the past chapter and a half. Two of these mentions (Legion and the hemorrhaging woman) are a result of recognizing who Jesus is. But the other two (Jesus calming the storm, and his response to Jairus upon finding out that his daughter had died) seem to be addressing some lack of faith. Jesus, upon hearing the news from a servant, that Jairus’ daughter was no more, turns to Jairus and says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” It’s as if he knew that this news would shatter Jairus’ faith. Editor's Note: This is really the part that hit me hard this past week. So he speaks directly to Jaius, directly into his heart, and says despite what you now know; despite the present circumstance, despite what you think is possible or impossible: just believe. There’s no step-by-step process in how to fix the problem. There’s no if you do this, then this will happen and you’ll need to do this. There’s just believe.

Editor's Note: Here's what I've thought about since writing this originally: It's funny how the order of events in this story turn out to be so important. First, Jairus asks Jesus to heal his daughter, thereby displaying a great measure of faith in Him. Then, as Jairus and Jesus travel to Jairus' house to meet his daughter, Jairus gets to witness a miraculous healing take place in a woman who, since he was a synagogue leader, Jairus probably either knew, or knew of. So, he must have known that she had been suffering for twelve years. He's there. He gets to see Jesus heal her. Not only does he see it, but he hears Jesus say that it was because of her FAITH that she is healed.

One could logically conclude from reading an account such as this that Jairus' faith would be strengthened by witnessing such an unusual event. However, almost immediately after seeing this, Jairus' faith is tested when one of his servants come and tells him that his daughter is dead. In fact, the servant follows it up with, "Why bother the teacher any more?"

In a moment that would have probably brought greater clarity in his faith, Jairus is smacked in the face with circumstance. Jesus must have known what this would do to him. The Message says that he said to him, "Don't listen to them; just trust me."

I don't understand my present circumstance. And, in earnest, that drives me absolutely CRAZY! But I know that, Biblically, whenever fear and confusion are present, Jesus' response is always the same: Don't listen to them; just trust me.

Don't listen to your circumstance. Don't listen to what your feelings tell you. Don't listen to what your brain tells you is possible or impossible. Don't search for formulaic, easy, controllable answers to your aching hearts' search for a fix! Don't try to discover ways that YOU can fix things on your own!

Just trust Jesus...

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