Fate or Faith

"We walk by faith and not by sight." 2 Cor. 5:7

In Mark chapter 5, fate makes its play, but faith comes out the winner.

Two lives hang in the balance as Jesus makes his way through the pressing throng. Two lives, with everything to gain and everything to lose, await His next move. The drama has been 12 years in the making. Everything hinges on what happens now.

It had all started simply enough. An important man's daughter, all of 12 years old, lay dying. That Jesus should come to his town is Providence too great to ignore. But time is short. Jesus must hurry. And so He does, pressing through the crowded street toward Jairus' home.

But fate intervenes, as it so often does. A woman also views Providence at work on her behalf. She does not see the father's anxiety-ridden face. She does not know his 12-year-old daughter is near death. Her own past dozen years have been filled with an illness so great it has ostracized her from family and friends. All her resources have evaporated in the failed efforts of a litany of doctors. Fate has left her destitute of any other support. She is a woman with no future — unless there is something Jesus can do. So she stretches out a hand of faith to touch One who carries the promise of something better.

And everything stops. Jesus stops. The crowd bunches to a halt. Jairus, pushing ahead, turns around with anxious agony. Every moment counts. But beyond his immediate understanding something else has stopped as well. The bleeding has ended. The desperate reach of faith has brought instantaneous healing to a weeping woman who kneels now at Jesus' feet. And Jesus is giving something even more. "Daughter," He says. "Go in peace and be whole." Daughter — an outcast no more; a welcomed part of the family; a woman with a future!

But there's another daughter at stake here, and fate strikes again. A grim-faced messenger wedges through the crowd. He tugs at Jairus' sleeve. "There's no need to trouble the Teacher anymore," he murmurs with a grim face. "Your daughter just died." Something inside Jairus crumbles then. If only the interruption had never occurred. If only Jesus had kept going. If only ... they might have been in time.

But Jesus has overheard. He has seen the agonized face; He has felt the anguished heart. He knows the brutal whimsy of fate is no match for the reach of faith.

You know the rest of the story. The ledger does not stop at 12 years for Jairus' daughter, who is awakened from her "sleep" by the Master's touch.

And so today, fate and faith continue the struggle for mastery in our own hearts and lives. Sometimes we reach out in faith and find our prayers answered dramatically, immediately, just like the woman. At other times, fate seems to intervene. Like Jairus, we wait anxiously, impatiently, wondering at Jesus' delay. Like Martha of another time and place, we cry, "Master, if only You had been here..."

But beyond our immediate understanding, God is on His way. Those who have fallen asleep awaiting Jesus' arrival will, like Jairus' daughter, hear His call and awake to something far better.

In the meantime, we still have a choice — to live under the shadow of fate or the promise of faith.

June 01, 2011 / Let's Talk