The Question

18 12 2009

This fall, I’ve been studying through Luke, which is one of the books in the Bible about the life of Jesus. Our church is going through Luke as well, although I’m a few chapters ahead in my personal study. Over the last few days, I’ve been spending time meditating on two stories in Luke 8.

The first is the story of Jesus calming a storm (Luke 8:22-25):

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they set out, and as they sailed he fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water and were in danger. And they went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and the raging waves, and they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?”

This is one of the most familiar passages in the Bible, but as I studied these words this week, God taught me something new. I love that Scripture is alive: every time I read these words God works on my heart in a new way. As I read this story, a question caught my attention.

Where is your faith?

After Jesus calms the storm, he looks at his disciples and asks this question. Remember that Jesus is God. He knows the answer to this question and is not asking for his own benefit. Second, remember that Jesus is the Creator who made men and women in his image. God created people to have faith just as certainly as they have hands. Faith is the capacity with which people place their trust in something. All people put their faith in something, whether it is what they can know scientifically or their own capacity to do good or in God.

Where is your faith?

Jesus’ question is a tender rebuke. The disciples have now been with Jesus for a while. They have listened to him teach and watched him do miracles and at least some of them believe he is God. But in this moment of crisis, they have not put their faith in Him.

Let’s back up a little bit. Jesus told the diciples to get in the boat and go across the lake. If he is God, he knows there will be a storm. Yet he falls asleep. When the storm is raging around the little boat and the disciples are fearing for their lives, they question Jesus. Do they trust that the same God who called them into the boat and across the lake will sustain them? Do they believe Jesus is enough? Where is their faith?

On a side note, I appreciate how gentle Jesus is with the disciples. After calming the storm, he does not criticize their lack of faith or accuse them of sin. Instead, he asks a simple question that reveals the mens’ hearts. What an important example for how to rebuke another person in love.

The second story comes at the end of the chapter, when Jesus is on the way to see Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-54):

 Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him. And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.

As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased. And Jesus said, “Who was it that touched me?” When all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” An d when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.”

 While he was still speaking, someone from the ruler’s house came and said, “Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the Teacher any more.” But Jesus on hearing this answered him, “Do not fear; only believe, and she will be well.” And when he came to the house, he allowed no one to enter with him, except Peter and John and James, and the father and mother of the child. And all were weeping and mourning for her, but he said, “Do not weep, for she is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. But taking her by the hand he called, saying, “Child, arise.” And her spirit returned, and she got up at once. And he directed that something should be given her to eat.

Where is your faith?

There is a lot here, but I want to focus on one thing. When Jairus went to Jesus, he hoped that this man of God would be able to heal his dying daughter. As a parent, I cannot imagine a deeper fear or pain than the death of my child. Jesus follows Jairus to his house, but the crowds pressing into him make their journey slow.

Somewhere along the way, Jesus stops. He stops to help a woman who, according to Jewish custom, is an outcast. Remember that Jairus is a religious man, a leader in his synagogue. He is an important man. This woman is worth nothing. But Jesus stops. If we read the story of this woman out of context, we just see Jesus’ compassion on this hurting woman. But if we read the story unfolding before and after this passage, we see something deeper.

As Jesus stops to help this woman, Jairus’ daughter dies. Can you imagine being Jairus at that moment? Imagine you called 911 because your child was dying and the ambulance  stopped on the way to your house to help a homeless meth addict along the side of the road?

Where is your faith?

I can hardly imagine the fear and anger swirling around in Jairus’ heart at that moment. Is he questioning whether Jesus is really God? Is he doubting that God is good? Jesus goes on to Jairus’ house where he does heal the little girl. So at the end of the story, it is easy to see that Jesus is good.

But that is not so obvious in the middle of the storm.

What about you? Where is your faith?

As I look at my own life, so often when God calls me to do something I believe it will be easy. When things become difficult, I question God’s goodness and sovereignty. Like the disciples, I struggle with fear. Like Jairus, my hope sinks. Is God sleeping? Why is he allowing this painful thing to continue? Doesn’t he see the storm? Doesn’t he know the child is dying?

This passage so beautifully illustrates the truth that God does call us into storms and then uses those storms to refine our hearts. He uses the broken things in our lives to gently rebuke us. He does not leave us alone, but he allows things to be hard. In the midst of it all, he says “Do not fear, only believe.” When things are difficult, sometimes we don’t know what to do, yet Jesus’ instruction is simple. Do not fear, only believe.

Where is your faith?

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3 responses

19 12 2009
janel

this was beautifully challenging to me. thank-you for sharing!

19 12 2009
Marisa

this was good to read…my heart needed the reminder.

24 12 2009
Elizabeth Huff

Thanks Sara.
This really ministered to me today w/ all that is happening in our family. Love ya.

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