Note of Encouragement

In our church family, in our extended family, and in our neighborhood, we have experienced a growing number of people who are struggling with diseases (like cancer), with chronic pain and great loss. It seems like the number is greater now than ever before. There is a long list of friends who need our prayers and encouragement. Is that true in your small sphere of the world, too?

In Mark 5:25-34, we see a woman who had been ill for some time (perhaps a hemorrhage that never completely healed). She had appealed to many doctors, medicines and treatments, but her situation just got worse. She had lost all faith in what she knew; Jesus was her last hope. She pushed through the crowd and touched the edge of Jesus’ cloak. In rabbinic Judaism, if an “impure” person (ill) touched another person, it made the other person “unclean” as well. She took a huge risk to even touch the hem of his garment; but in faith, she sought Jesus, certain that he could make her well. In fact, the reverse proved to be true — the “clean” (Jesus) made the ritually “unclean” (woman) pure. What Jesus did was to heal the physical body, relieve the suffering and renew the woman’s spirit: “Daughter, your faith has healed you [physical]. Go in peace [spiritual] and be freed from your suffering” (Mk 5:34). The miracles and healings performed by Jesus in the NT demonstrated his divinity; but more than that, they demonstrated the fragility of human beings and his relentless compassion and desire to fully redeem us, body and spirit. 

I read this devotional and it really “struck a chord” with me. Sometimes our physical struggles are a perfect time to slow down and let God renew us, body and spirit. I have changed a few words, but this is basically the work of John Ruskin:

“There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end of the song. God sends us times of forced rest by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymn of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there.

God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the times of rest. They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or change the key. If we will only look up, God himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on him, our next note will be full and clear. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us a symphony!”