Obstacles and Opportunities: The Tug-Of-War For Our Faith (Part II)

Is your faith being pulled in the wrong direction? Do you want to take advantage of the opportunities that God has given to you to develop your faith? As it was in the biblical story of Jairus, our faith is often pulled toward the world and then toward the Lord. There will be obstacles and opportunities to grow your faith throughout your life, but you must choose to capitalize on those opportunities as they come along.

Let’s continuing learning from the story of Jairus. As Jairus sought Jesus after following the urging of his dying daughter, another encouraging testimony surfaced:

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. – Luke 8:43-44

Appearing on the scene is the woman with the issue of blood. As Shakespeare would say, this was the “play within the play.” In this interruption to the story of Jairus, we discover that she struggled with an issue that made her unclean for 12 years (any coincidence that Jairus’ daughter is 12 years old as well – I think not). She claimed the promise in Malachi that stated the Messiah would have “healing in his wings,” yet the story doesn’t end there. Jesus drew out the woman’s testimony to influence the heart of Jairus.

While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it, he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. – Luke 8:49-50

At that moment, what was going on in Jairus’ heart?

While Jesus blessed the woman, a trusted friend from Jairus’ house came to him with bad news. Jairus’ heart was filled with fear and pain beyond the description of words. The friend called Jesus, “master,” the Greek term for a common teacher (note: the disciples used a different Greek term translated Master but meaning “the overseer” in order to show their submission to His teachings – Luke 8:45).

The friend implied, “There is nothing that Jesus could possibly do at this point to solve your problem.”

Have you arrived at that same conclusion about situations in your life?
• My marriage is so broken that there’s nothing Jesus can do
• My children are so wayward that there’s nothing Jesus can do
• My life has been so wrecked by sin and strife …
• My problem is so big…
• My heart hurts so badly…

Is life ever so far gone that Jesus cannot help? You must never give up on Jesus and his power, ability, and desire to work on the most devastated areas of your life. I think the damage from Hurricane Katrina to New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina destroyed that city, but when the storm had passed and the ruin remained, the citizens determined to rise up and re-build.

I can picture Jairus turning around to see his friend, and then turning back to look at Christ. “Fear not: believe only” was the Master’s plea. Revealed here is Jairus’ deeper problem: his real need is not his dying daughter; it is his need for faith in Christ.

What situation are you facing that is directing you to Christ? Truly, every situation we face ought to cause us to kneel in prayer and humility before the Lord Jesus Christ. However, people do not turn to the Lord because of their improper belief that they innately possess the capability to solve all their problems without the Lord. People only turn to God in faith when they recognize their inability to help themselves in a given situation. Because of this notion, God arranges circumstances that will clearly draw our attention to our finite abilities and redirect our faith to His infinite abilities!

In Jairus’ heart, the weight of the woman’s testimony was pulling him toward Christ, yet the testimony of the messenger was pulling him toward devastation.

Jairus is being pulled by fear, but he has a chance to live by faith. The decision is at hand. He must choose.

When you are faced with such a decision – the choice between fear and faith – will you choose Christ despite your fear?

Jairus chooses Christ, and they return together to his home.

When they arrive the mourners and the minstrels are weeping and full of sorrow:

And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. – Luke 8:51-52

Jesus declares that there is no reason to sorrow for her because she is “not dead” but “sleepeth.” Had these mourners been Christians, they would not have mourned as others mourned, as those who have no hope (I Thessalonians 4:13). Jesus was once again directing people to put their faith in Him. Despite the encouragement of the Master, the mourners turned to mocking as they “laughed him to scorn.”

And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. – Luke 8:53

In essence, the crowd of mocking mourners beckoned Jairus to join them in faithlessness, in hopelessness, in sorrow, and in mocking the Lord.

When the Lord doesn’t do or say what you expected, doesn’t your heart tend to faithlessness? Doesn’t your heart yearn to complain that “Jesus let me down?” Doesn’t your heart desire to bemoan that “Jesus didn’t answer my prayer?”

Don’t you immediately begin to sink into hopelessness?

Will you continue in a state of doubt and denial of the power of God to deliver you? Has God been unfaithful? Has not God extended to you His hand of grace? Does he not beckon us to come boldly to His throne? Did He not declare that His grace is sufficient?

Indeed, He has! Don’t join the mockers! Trust in the Lord!

As the mockers moaned around Jairus, the pressure to make a decision was mounting.

In this tug-o-war, Jesus made one more pull to encourage Jairus’ faith:

And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. – Luke 8:51

Jesus made arrangements immediately to separate Jairus from his ungodly associates and simultaneously ushered his wish and him into the presence of strong believers (namely, Peter, James, and John). It is as if Jesus was saying, “I’ve got to get these people away from Jairus or his faith will be destroyed.”

Consider your friends. What type of people are they? Do they add burdens to your life or are they “burden bearers” who can help you carry your load. Other Christians can comfort and counsel you through your hardships. “Bear ye one another’s burdens” is Paul’s admonition to spiritual Christians in Galatians 6:2. God puts faithful people in our lives “for such a time as this.” Esther had Mordechai, David had Jonathan, Moses had Joshua, and the list goes on. A godly friend is one that “loveth at all times” and is there for you in times of adversity (Proverbs 17:17). Do you have such friends? If so, turn to them during times of trouble. They will be a great source of encouragement and guidance. These people will be your greatest prayer partners and cheerleaders. Don’t let pride fool you into thinking that you can do it all on your own. Allow the Lord to work through these faithful friends. Who are the strong believers in your life? If you don’t have strong, mature believers with whom to fellowship, its time you find some immediately!

Well, everyone loves a happy ending…

And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done. – Luke 8:55-56

The girl’s spirit came again, and she arose straightway! The parents were beside themselves. The sudden rush of emotion from wonderment and shock completely gripped them. They were enraptured with what their eyes beheld. Here was their daughter, dead while the minstrels played her memorial, suddenly raised by the commandment of Christ!

Jairus’ faith was rewarded. He believed that God was a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him! God did an amazing work in the life of Jairus. This life-dominating situation caused Jairus to put everything on the line, including his faith. The future of his family, the relationship with his friends, and the status of his career were all in jeopardy. Most importantly, the lack of faith in Jairus’ heart was addressed.

He faced very serious questions: What of this Jesus – is he only a “teacher” or is He someone more? Will I remain dominated by fear and pressure or will I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? Will I forsake all that I’ve come to embrace in this life in order to draw closer to Christ?

Perhaps you are in a situation that God is using to reveal a deeper need in your life: the need for faith in Christ.

Your faith can be rewarded if you put your trust in God (Hebrews 11:6). You can know a God who never changes; you can know a God whose arm is strong to save; you can know a love that goes beyond all limits; you can know a grace whose power is all sufficient.

In the tug-of-war for your faith, there is a constant pull between:
• The faithless culture and the faithful Christian home
• The doubtful messenger and the dedicated Master
• The sorrowful mockers and the strengthening ministers

Will you turn away from the ungodly culture in order to listen to the urging of God’s Servants?

Will you turn from doubt in order to trust the Lord?

Will you separate yourself from the mockers in order to befriend strengthening ministers?

What choices do you have to make? By God’s grace, I pray that you make the right ones today.

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