Below you will find the "script" for my talk in Chapel yesterday. They say you only write about what you know...this week, I must say, I preached what I myself needed to hear.
Will I be able to handle that? What if someone is better at it than I am? This is going to be so hard! What’s the use? Should I even try to overcome this?
It never fails that when we’re facing a problem or even an upcoming event in our lives, a little voice creeps into our head, questioning whether we really are capable; wondering if we’ll really be able to do what we’ve set out to do and wrapping ourselves in doubt. Many times even in areas of our lives where there aren’t any huge problems, fears, doubts and anxieties find a way of becoming present right along with feelings of excitement, gratitude, or success.
Throughout Mark’s gospel we hear about Jesus’ ministry of healing. As I read a passage from Mark 1:29-39, think about the ways in which you may need healing in your own life.
“And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them.
When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.” And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.”
This passage speaks of Jesus healing those people who come to him. In context of the book of Mark, this passage is preceded and followed by other stories of miraculous healings by our Lord. Jesus cures a demoniac, calling the unclean spirit out of a man in the passage prior to the one I read and cures both a leper and a paralytic in the verses following the passage. It concludes by telling us that he “drove out demons” throughout the whole of Galilee. Mark’s Gospel, although the shortest of the gospels, vividly tells us many details about Jesus’ public ministry. It proclaims the good news that Jesus himself is the son of God who was sent to rescue humanity by serving and eventually sacrificing his life for us. Although perhaps a burden at times, He took great joy in serving his people.
In verses 29-39, we heardthat people began bringing all who were ill to Jesus after the sun had set. Then, Jesus was up “very early before dawn” and went out to a deserted place to pray. While we don’t know how far Jesus’ deserted place was from Capernaum, it’s obvious that he was seeking to have time alone with His holy father. We find, however, that Simon and the other disciples seek out Jesus in this deserted place and tell him that “Everyone is looking for you.” What this means is that even though he had been up very late healing people, the people of Galilee are up very early the next morning, already eager to have an encounter with Jesus, so much so that they find his disciples and insist on them finding him and bringing him back. These people recognized that they needed healing and had the full expectation that Jesus was the man who could take care of them.
Are we eager in bringing our own concerns to the Lord? Do we expect that he will heal us of our anxieties? The Galileans give us such a good example for being eager about the Word of God and having expectant faith. Mother in laws sick? Go to Jesus! Friend has a demon? Find Jesus! Dealing with leprosy? Where’s Jesus? In our lives, these “demons” and “leprosy” may look a little bit like anxiety over midterms, an unhealthy relationship in our life, financial burdens, and other personal concerns.
When thinking about how to break the fever of the problems in your life, what do you do first? I know that I wish I could say I eagerly seek out God’s word and expect that whatever concern I bring to Him, he will control. Truly, though, I’m not sure I’ve fully allowed that to happen in every area of my life. Even the demons have faith in Jesus and are pulled out of the ones they’re possessing because, as it says in verse 34, “he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.” The demons themselves know and believe in Jesus! How much more should we as Christians have faith in Jesus? If Jesus is willing to help his followers in all that they ask, traveling for days, preaching and driving out demons through the whole of Galilee, why wouldn’t He do the same for us? We need to allow Him to be our Healer, bring any and all troubles to Him with the full expectation that He’s got it from here.
How would your life be different if you treated Jesus as your Healer in all things, whether that be preparing for your next speech, getting ready for your next big game, dealing with a “demon” that helps you forget your problems, such as alcohol, or having a difficult conversation with a friend? As Christians, we expect that our prayers will be answered, even if the answer is “No.”
Now, I say all of this knowing that often I find myself believing that my problems are too small for God, that I only need to step up and deal with them, be strong, quit being such a worrier... When I was in college, this belief was challenged when I read a reflection on 1st Corinthians 1:29-30 which says “so that no human being might boast before God… ‘Whoever boast, should boast in the Lord.’” Paul uses this expression to remind us that we cannot claim to be autonomous, we are not, and never will be, saved by our own resources. This is so easy to forget because of the way we are encouraged to live. We’ve grown up in a society that tells us to always do our best, get ahead any way we can, and fend for ourselves. We’ve been taught that independence is to be strived for at all costs, that you need to be good at something to do it at all. While it is worth it to be reminded that we cannot take credit for the good in our lives, it is so important that we remember that we also cannot keep our doubts and anxieties to ourselves. Looking internally for solutions and relief will push us only further into our problems—we’re not supposed to deal with them alone. Instead, we must expectantly bring them to our Healer, to the One who knows our hearts, to the one who sacrificed his life for our salvation.
Right now I’d like you to take a moment and pretend that Jesus himself is sitting here in front of you. Imagine the expression on his face, his eagerness to hear from you and his yearning to serve his people, his willingness to listen. Now picture yourself physically placing your fears and doubts and anxieties into his lap, giving them fully to Him, expecting that He’s got them from here. You are welcome to place as many of these as you want, forever, right there in His lap. Carefully revel in how it feels to place each doubt and anxiety there, in the place where they belong. Expect that they will be taken care of, because He’s got it from here. Now picture yourself laying your head in Jesus’ lap, putting yourself in a place where he can heal you, where he can cure your sickness, drive out the demons of your life. It is here that we, as Christians, are free to dwell. We, just like the Galileans, are welcome and called to eagerly and expectantly find that place often, within all of the various pockets of our lives.
Thanks for reading,