Today is my wife, Fiona’s birthday. And it’s been just over a year since she had surgery to prepare her for dialysis. What began as an enormous shock to us as we reeled from the news that Fiona’s kidneys had failed and that she would need to go on dialysis has now become something we’re quite used to. And I wonder, is that okay? Sure, we naturally expect to get over the shock of bad news, but it sounds strange to describe that process as getting used to what we had prayed against for so long. I realize that I need to accept what God has allowed to happen, but I don’t want the idea of feeling used to this to cause me to no longer seek God for the miraculous. That’s the tension we live in. Accept it – but pray for change. How many situations in life fit that description?
Matthew 19 is part of my Bible reading for today, and there Jesus speaks to his disciples about an impossible situation of a different kind: A rich man not being able to enter God’s kingdom. And as I read this familiar story, a small detail caught my attention. Verse 26 says, “And looking at them Jesus said to them, ‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”
There are no other stories of when Jesus was teaching His disciples when the Gospel writers went out of their way to say Jesus looked at them as He spoke to them. Perhaps this means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I couldn’t help but wonder today if this detail was inserted because Jesus was particularly eager for His disciples to understand something. If the Son of God was looking straight at you and said, “With people this is impossible, but not with God – all things are possible with God”, would you believe Him?
After 18 years of prayer, Fiona’s kidneys failed. I do believe God could have healed her anytime – and still could – but for some reason He hasn’t. And because He’s given me no reasons for why He hasn’t healed her and has just let it get worse and worse, I’m left struggling with the temptation to defeatedly think that He won’t ever heal her (on earth, that is). And that may be true, like it or not. The distance between believing He won’t do something and believing that something is impossible does not seem very far. But when Jesus’ disciples were told about something that was true, like it or not, and which left them feeling rather hopeless regarding somebody’s plight (the rich), Jesus made a point of looking at them as He said, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Jesus didn’t just say this as He walked away or walked along or even as He looked up to heaven. It says in both Matthew and Mark that He looked right at His disciples as he intently assured them that all things are possible in the hands of God.
There’s comfort in that little detail. So as Fiona and I continue to face a situation that is impossible with people, Jesus is looking at us – and wants to catch our eye as He says, “This is not impossible for God! With God, all things are possible! With God, there’s hope in your situation.” I want the courage to look right back at Him as He shares this hope with us and as we continue to pray for a miracle.
© 2008 by Ken Peters