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URC Daily Devotion 5th February 2022

St Luke 8: 40 – 56

Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.  Just then there came a man named Jairus, a leader of the synagogue. He fell at Jesus’ feet and begged him to come to his house,  for he had an only daughter, about twelve years old, who was dying.

As he went, the crowds pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years; and though she had spent all she had on physicians, no one could cure her.  She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her haemorrhage stopped.  Then Jesus asked, ‘Who touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and press in on you.’  But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’  When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed.  He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’

While he was still speaking, someone came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead; do not trouble the teacher any longer.’ When Jesus heard this, he replied, ‘Do not fear. Only believe, and she will be saved.’ When he came to the house, he did not allow anyone to enter with him, except Peter, John, and James, and the child’s father and mother.  They were all weeping and wailing 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 he took her by the hand and called out, ‘Child, get up!’  Her spirit returned, and she got up at once. Then he directed them to give her something to eat.  Her parents were astounded; but he ordered them to tell no one what had happened.

Reflection
What does it mean to be desperate? 

I think of it as a state of mind which consumes life in a frantic downward emotional spiral.  Maybe something of vital importance is at grave risk.  Maybe a loss has been suffered, so great that one cannot see beyond it.  Maybe a realisation has dawned that one is utterly helpless to bring about a deeply desired outcome.  Maybe one just doesn’t know how to find the strength to carry on.

In such a state people may find the energy to perform one last act of desperation.

Both Jairus and the woman suffering from haemorrhages did just that.  Their actions in begging Jesus and in touching Jesus respectively, arose from their desperate situations. 

Jesus appears not to be fazed by their desperation.  He most certainly does not turn away from it.  He engages.  He reassures.  He discerns faith.  He heals.

There are desperate people out there today.  Where Christ’s Church is not turning away from them, but is engaging, reassuring, discerning faith and bringing healing we can be humbly proud to be following His way.

It may be that desperation is even closer to home than that.  Both the Covid pandemic and the climate emergency, for example, give fertile ground for despair.  If and when we ourselves experience an underlying, gnawing sense of quiet desperation or are overtaken by an acute, agonising, flaring despair – when, or if, such a thing happens – how might Jairus and the unnamed woman help us?

Simply, but not simplistically, we are invited to follow their example.  We do not encounter the man Jesus on our streets as they did, but the cry of our hearts Godward brings us straight to his feet.  We are heard.  And by God’s grace healing and hope can begin to take root. 

Prayer
Beauty for brokenness
hope for despair,
Lord, in the suffering,
this is our prayer.

Graham Kendrick
© 1993 Make Way Music
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