Read Luke 8:40-56
“Daughter,” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.”
But when Jesus heard what had happened, he said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid. Just have faith, and she will be healed.” (Luke 8:48, 50 NLT)
I will never forget the summer when I 8-years-old, when our family travelled to Sweden for a visit. We did all kinds of things while we were there, but one of my most vivid memories is of taking a day trip to Norway. The countries share a border so we drove into Norway basically just to say we had been there. I honestly remember nothing about the country, but what I do remember is that we stopped at the border and had a picnic right there at the sign that said, I assume, “Welcome to Norway!” While we there at the sign, my brother and my cousins and I spent most of our time hopping back and forth across the border line so we could say for the rest of our lives that we had been to Norway hundreds of times. I went on the “Visit Norway” website this week and there are amazing pictures of some of the most beautiful scenery you can imagine and there is everything to do there from glacier walking to fine dining, but all I remember is the sign. And its true, technically, I have been to Norway hundreds of times. I missed out on seeing the whole country… I missed out on the bigger picture… but I do remember the sign. So, in the photo album of my mind, Norway looks like a green sign with white letters written in a language I don’t know. I’ve been to to Norway, but I’ve never seen it. Not fully, anyway.
In my 42 years I have seen people healed in all kinds of ways. I have even experienced physical healing in my own life first hand. I’ve seen broken marriages restored, relationships reconciled, financial woes overcome… and each one of these experiences has been an answer to prayer… many times from the lips of those who found hope enough in their desperation to turn to Jesus. But the truth is, I have also experienced (as I would assume all of us have) those times where the answers to our prayers did not come in the way we had hoped. So what do we do with something like that? How do we remain faithful? How do we not lose hope when the story ends differently than what we envsioned or imagined possible? I just want to be honest. There really is no easy answer. There is likely very little that I can say that could bring any real resolve to these kinds of questions. But what I can proclaim with great confidence is that no matter what happens, we can never afford to lose the hope that leads us to turn to Jesus in all times… from our times of great joy to our most desperate hour of need we must never lose the hope we have in Jesus that creates possibilities that stretch us beyond the confines of what we can imagine here and now. Our lives are part of a much bigger story… a much wider picture than we can often see as we fix our eyes and attention on our immediate struggles.
The woman is made well, the father’s fear is relieved as his daughter is returned to life from death… and she is now been made alive to hope for another day. But there’s even more here. Yes, hope was realized in the lives of these individuals, but as Jesus heals and restores life, he gives us a glimpse of a much bigger picture. He gives us a glimpse of the kingdom of God… a rule and reign of the Father where there is no sickness or disease, rather there is health and wholeness. He gives us glimpse of the kingdom of God… a rule and reign of the Father where our desperation is replaced with confidence and where our vulnerability is replaced by stability. These healing stories serve for us as signs of much bigger picture of the the Kingdom of God that has come fully in and through Jesus, but is still being realized even as we live today… they are signs of even greater things to come. So, the challenge for us is to not see these signs as the point.
By no means do I intend to diminish the power of what happens in these healing stories or in our own. My intent is not to devalue this in any way. The challenge, however, is to avoid limiting our picture of the kingdom of God to something like my picture of Norway. Norway is so much more than a green sign on the side of the road… the sign was intended to point the way… not to be the point. The Kingdom of God is so much more than signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are not intended to be the point… they are intended to point the way to the one who is the way… JESUS. So lets look for the signs. In fact, lets pray for more signs, and even join with Jesus in making them, but lets keep our eyes on Jesus as we do.
So, friends live in hope that is beautiful… hope that you can hold on to when you’ve lost everything else… hope that creates possibilities that have very little do with your immediate circumstances, possibilities that stretch you beyond the confines of what you can imagine here and now. Pray from that place of hope. Pray with great faith and expectation. Look for the signs and let them point you to the way… the truth… the life. JESUS.