Relying on God

Posted 7/1/2018

Scriptures: Psalm 130, Mark 5:21-43

Sometimes life seems to be spinning out of control and we feel ourselves to be at our wit’s end. Perhaps it was a serious medical diagnosis which left you feeling life is out of your control. Perhaps it has happened because you suddenly found yourself laid off or otherwise out of work. Perhaps you feel this way because of a crisis within your family circle or in the life of a close friend. Whatever the cause, all of us experience times when we feel our life is out of control. 

Whatever else we may feel at such times, we almost inevitably feel disoriented, at least for a little while. The world we had relied upon has suddenly become unpredictable — a world vastly different from the one in which we thought we were living. Our lives have been turned upside down and we aren’t sure how to make sense of what is happening. Suddenly everything feels different — and we don’t know quite what to make of it all.

We may also feel angry. We can’t understand why this should happen to ME. What did I ever do to deserve this? It all seems so totally unfair. We may find ourselves lashing out at others — even those who love, support and are trying to help us. 

At such times we are also likely to feel sad and depressed. This only adds to our sense of being unable to cope with what is happening to and around us. Our sadness and depression can be so intense that they make it hard for us to make any plans for the future or to take any action.

When our world goes spinning out of control and we are at our wit’s end, we have a deep need for something to hang onto. When all else in our world seems to have been turned upside down and to be unpredictable, we need something to be an immoveable anchor. We need something — or someone — we know we can rely upon. Our Scriptures for today include several people who found their world turned upside down and experienced that desperate need for something or someone they could rely upon.

“Out of the depths I cry to you O Lord,” we hear the Psalmist say. We aren’t really told why the Psalmist felt so desperate. What we do know is he was experiencing his life as if he were drowning in the midst of the depths of the sea. All we know is that life had become unpredictable, chaotic, even filled with dreadful fear for the Psalmist. He felt himself to be struggling to survive in the “depths” of chaotic and destructive waters. The Psalmist knows his deep need.

In the same way, in the gospel lesson, we read of 2 other people who are desperate — a father desperately seeking the healing of his daughter who is about to die and an unnamed woman who has exhausted not only her finances but also all other possibilities for healing. Both come to Jesus with their deep need. 

And in all three of these cases we discover that they also come with deep faith. The Psalmist doesn’t hesitate in the midst of his desperate situation, whatever it was, to cry out to God, confident that “with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.” The unnamed woman comes to Jesus, confident that simply touching the hem of his robe will heal her. Jairus comes, confident that Jesus will go with him and that he can make his daughter well, restoring her to life. 

In these Scriptures we see that deep need calls for deep faith. A deep trust that God’s in his steadfast love will not ignore us when we cry to him. A deep confidence that God has great power to redeem — and desires to redeem. An abiding assurance that Jesus cares and will act to heal, save and restore. A deep faith that God can and will give us new life even in the face of what seems certain death.

This kind of deep faith trusts in God’s faithful redemption. It has no doubts that God can and will act on our behalf to save. This is not a faith that is unfamiliar with trouble and deep need. It is not a faith that has never experienced difficult times, even desperation. Rather, it is a faith that rises up in the midst of the darkest hours in our lives.

What can we do in our dark hours? When life seems hopeless? What all seems lost? When we have no idea where to turn or who can help? The witness of Scripture is this is a time we can turn to God — confident of God’s care. This is a time we can turn to Jesus — the one who knows our every temptation and sorrow. We can turn to Jesus, who like us, experienced the trials, temptations, disappointments and hurts of life. We can turn to Jesus who has himself experienced the depths of despair. We can turn to Jesus who prayed in Gethsemane with such intensity that he shed drops of blood. We can turn to Jesus who on the cross cried out “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

And we turn to Jesus, not simply because he has experienced the trials, temptations, disappointments and hurts of life — not just because he has shared human life with us — but because this same Jesus is also God-with-us and God-for-us. This same Jesus not only rose, but reigns in power and is in heaven interceding for us. This same Jesus not only showed his love for us in his life and death, he continues to show his love for us as our advocate with the Father in heaven. 

We turn to God in our darkest hours, not because of some vague belief that God cares; but because we have experienced the reality of God’s care expressed in the life of Jesus. A care that reaches even into the depths of our lives — even into the darkest places in which we may find ourselves. When all else in life seems to have given way, we can rely upon God.

And this relying upon God means bringing our deep need to Jesus. Like Jairus, like the unnamed woman, we can come to Jesus in our darkest hours confident of Jesus’ healing, redeeming touch. We can come, knowing that Jesus cares for us — cares passionately. That Jesus cares for us not in a general way, but in a deeply personal way. 

Notice how in this story, Jesus refused to allow the woman to go unnoticed. We may not learn her name, but we do learn that Jesus insisted on having a personal relationship with her. No anonymous healing, despite the fact this seems to be the woman’s desire. No, Jesus insists this be a healing that leads to a real relationship as Jesus speaks to her in tenderness and love. Notice how Jesus insists upon establishing this personal relationship with the unnamed woman even in the face of Jairus’ pressing need. 

Yet this taking time to establish a relationship with the unnamed woman did not lead to Jesus ignoring Jairus’ deep need — even when the report comes that all is now hopeless. Even in the face of death, Jesus invites Jairus into a relationship with himself, saying “Do not fear, only believe.” He continues on with Jairus to his house and there he raises Jairus’ daughter, meeting Jairus’ deep need. 

Jesus takes time for each of us. Time to be with each of us personally in our deepest needs. Time to establish a loving, caring relationship with each of us individually in our darkest hours. Jesus walks with us through the deep waters and brings us out of the depths when we cry to him. Granted, as was true with Jesus, our bringing out of the depths may require our taking up a cross. But the promise is, Jesus reigns for us and he will raise us up, even from the power of death.