I last posted on Sonderjourneys in December, and since then it’s become pretty clear that I’m having more mini-strokes, something that the Coumadin was supposed to prevent. Unfortunately, it’s not terribly clear to the doctors what to try next. I’m currently being referred to a specialist, who will spend next week reviewing my case to decide whether or not to see me. Meanwhile, I’ve had a headache for the last 14 days. It may be a tension headache, since heat and relaxing do help, but it’s not going away. What if it’s a sign that something’s wrong inside? And it started right after a very short dizzy spell that may have been a mini-stroke.
I’ve been having my Quiet Times the last couple weeks in Luke 8, where Jesus does four different miracles. On top of that, the sermon topic of the last two weeks at church was prayer. Last week, my Home Group all prayed over me. Also, after church the prayer team prayed for me, and then the pastor and the elders prayed over me.
So I’m thinking about prayer and healing, about faith and fear. I thought I’d try articulating some of these thoughts.
First, Jesus deals with each person very differently. Calming the storm was very different from driving demons out of the possessed man which was very different from healing the woman who’d been bleeding for 12 years, which was very different from raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, which was very different from healing Bartimaeus. (The first four are from Luke 8. The other is from this morning’s sermon, in Mark 10.) It’s not like there’s a certain formula if you wanted Jesus to heal you. He approached everybody differently.
Second, in Luke 8, it was all Jesus’ fault! Whose idea was it to sail across the lake right when a squall was about to come up? Jesus! And if he hadn’t gone across the lake right then (apparently just to meet the demon-possessed man and return), then Jairus could have gotten to him before his daughter died, and it could have been just a simple, straightforward healing. Jairus didn’t come running to have his daughter raised from the dead. He was hoping for a healing. He comes to Jesus urgently, and you know he must have been anxiously waiting for Jesus to come back across the lake. And then, while he’s on the way, Jesus stops and talks to some woman who touched the edge of his cloak! Doesn’t Jesus realize how urgent this is?
Third, these were truly bad situations. The Bible admits that the disciples in the boat “were in great danger.” These fishermen told Jesus, “Master! Master! We’re going to drown!” As for Jairus, he was told “Your daughter is dead. Don’t bother the teacher any more.” Yes, I think he had good reason to give up.
But the thing that most struck me was this: Jesus said different things to the different groups of people. To the disciples, Jesus said, “Where is your faith?” In Matthew, it says his words were, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” But look at what Jesus said to Jairus! After he was told that his daughter was dead and he might as well give up, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe and she will be healed.”
What was the difference between the disciples and Jairus? Jesus didn’t scold Jairus for being afraid, even though he did tell him he didn’t need to be. But the disciples knew Jesus. They should have known that God wouldn’t let them drown. They should have known better.
So that brings me to this morning’s sermon. John Maulella said, “When my awareness of my need meets my understanding of the character of Jesus, that’s faith.”
Where am I in my spiritual walk? I’m very sure that God loves me. I’ve seen him work in my life and bring great good to me out of truly terrible things that happened. So even if God allows something terrible to happen to me, I do believe that God will bring good out of it. I’ve come far enough with Jesus that if I doubt, He’ll have good reason to ask me “Why are you so afraid?”
Now, mind you, that’s easier said than done. One verse that helped is in Psalms: “Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Singing songs can help remind me that I believe I am in God’s hands.
And I don’t know what His plan is with this illness. It would be nice to just be healed. It would also be nice to have the doctors figure out what’s going on and help make me better. In the meantime, I get practice in trust.
Also this morning, I listened to a recording of a podcast a friend gave me of John Eldredge speaking about suffering. He reminded us that in the Bible suffering is not something to be surprised about. Even Paul, God’s point person in reaching the world with the Gospel, suffered terribly.
So how does all this fit together? I’m not sure. But I do want to have the kind of faith that helps me not be afraid. Because I do believe that God is good. And I’ve seen him bring great good out of terrible things. What is He going to do out of this?