Thursday, May 13, 2010

When faced with extremes

As I've read the Gospels lately, I've felt increasingly aware of how extreme the circumstances were for the people who turned to Jesus for help. Some of the terminology used expresses just how desperate people must have been. Try this one: "Your daughter is dead" (Luke 8:49). Wow. Or how about this one: "she could not be healed by anyone" (Luke 8:43). Those are extreme examples of need, indicating how bad it got for some of the people who came to Jesus. We're told that the woman who couldn't be healed by anyone had spent all her wages on doctors who had failed her. And we're told that the daughter who died was the parents' only daughter. Dead. Broke. Hopeless. Why does Luke go out of his way to paint such extremely harsh pictures?

I believe it's simply because Luke wanted his readers to clearly see how amazingly great God is! No matter how extreme our situation, God is greater! The Bible tells us that God even allowed situations to become extreme so that He could better reveal His glory. In the story about a man born blind (certainly an extreme circumstance), Jesus' disciples asked Jesus who had sinned to leave the man with such a harsh lot in life. Jesus said that it had nothing to do with anyone's sin. God allowed it to happen "so that the work of God might be displayed in him" (John 9:3). In such extreme situations, God glorifies His name as He shows us the contrast between what was and what it can become when we cry out to Him and He intervenes.

All of that is meant to give us hope for when we face extremes situations. As my wife Fiona and I go through what feels like something harsh or extreme, God wants us to believe that no matter how extremely bad things get, God can do something about it! He wants us to believe -- to dare to hope -- to dare to reach out to Him, and to cry out to Him. And in order to help us to do so, God shows us a daughter who's "dead" and a woman who "could not be healed by anyone."  And then He shows us something wonderful!  He shows the parents of that girl risking faith in His name, and the woman who'd been sick for so many long years choosing to believe that Jesus could help her, and then Jesus raises the daughter from the dead and completely heals a desperate woman. Amazing!

So I can't allow myself to be intimidated by extremes. No situation is too far gone for God to turn it around. And I must realize that God sometimes actually allows things grow increasingly extreme so that we can better see His glory when He intervenes. That's why I must never let such circumstances eclipse God. God is much bigger than whatever I may be facing and He invites me to cry out to Him in faith and with hope.  By doing so, we will be seen to be fully depending on Him no matter what the circumstances, and He will be seen in all His glory by the great contrast between our crises and His amazing answers.

© 2010 by Ken Peters


Reinhard said...

Excellent post Ken...
The extremes can be very intimidating especially if we're walking outside our comfort zones... How wonderful it is to have a Father that walks with me, directs me, corrects me and loves me....
Blessings to you and your family,

Elisabeth said...

I can't imagine life with God...
who would we cry out to?
Who would have an answer to anything?
What is there worth living for?
You and your family are deeply loved by Him and are in the palm of His hands.
Elisabeth Rogocki

Ken said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog guys. And thanks for your comments.
You're right Reinhard. And in fact, I suspect that we're always outside our comfort zone when God faces us up with extreme circumstances. It's His way of teaching us dependence, I guess.
And Elisabeth, because I know you must have meant you "can't imagine life withOUT God", I know that I can't imagine facing extreme situations without Him either. We're not meant to face them alone!