Jesus said, "Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep". But they laughed at Him.
My son wants to learn how to skateboard. He got one for Christmas a while ago along with a really cool helmet and knee pads. When he was all set up to go he took his first step on to the board...and promptly fell off. He hasn't tried since.
He was only 3 at the time, and in his little 3 year old mind, this dramatic failure was a sign of impossibility. The pain of falling caused him to be fearful of even trying again. I love my little guy, but he is easily frustrated by failure. It is part of his personality makeup and will be something we have to work through with him for years to come. Whether school work, new games or just life in general.
Why do we keep lovingly helping him keep trying. Because we know that sometimes things that are worth it aren't easy. Sometimes, when you don't yet have a full perspective, you cannot see the success on the other side of trying and failing. Bad parents support their kids giving up when something is tough. Loving parents hold their hands and help them get up again. What kind of adult do you think will be developed if the people in their life always tell them, "You're right, not worth it, impossible, you can't do it...."?
A heartbroken father approaches Jesus with an impossible situation. His daughter has died. We have seen Jesus heal sickness, but death? This doesn't dissuade this father though. There is one thing he recognizes; If there is any hope of new life, it is only in Jesus.
When Jesus arrives at the home of the dead girl the funeral "celebration" is in full swing. A crowd has gathered, musicians are playing whatever it is you play on flutes at a funeral....? Jesus looks at all the people who have come to commemorate the end of life and has a pretty "odd" statement. She is sleeping, not dead. And they laugh at him...
Death is final...she is dead....what kind of idiot is this?
So they are sent out.
Jesus goes to the girl and simply takes her by the hand and she stands up. Alive. Healed. A whole life in front of her.
There are three types of people we have to recognize in our lives.
1) Those who are "dead"
2) Those who have hope
3) Those who mock hope
1- Being dead takes all sorts of forms. Sometimes it is us. Sometimes it is those we love. Sometimes it is situations, relationships, things, communities, etc. And like my skateboard falling off of son, we are always real quick to throw in the towel.
2- Hope isn't a blind swinging in the dark. The hope that this father displays is one built on the confidence of the Jesus he has come to discover and know. The Jesus of impossible. What is impossible for man, is possible for Christ. He puts his hope not in a generic ambiguous idea, he GOES to Jesus to put his hope in the proper context.
3- Everyone is a counselor. Few are qualified. Few care to speak truth, only what makes them comfortable. The crowds gathered when Jesus arrives do not care to see hope in Christ. They see life through the lens they are used to. Death is final. Even when the miracle worker shows up in their midst, they do not recognize Hope, they laugh at it.
So how do we deal with these realities? How do we make headway in the midst of death, heartache and tragedy?
First, embrace the reality that death is real. That sometimes there are things that are beyond your reach of fixing. This father could have stood over his daughter all day, shaking her, giving CPR, etc. But it would have done no good. He can't bring new life to that which is dead. Embracing this reality doesn't mean resigning yourself to it. It means accepting your inability to do anything about it.
Second, put hope into action. This father doesn't just weep, he goes. He places his hope not in new circumstances, miracle cures, special prayers...He places it in a person. Christ. We can say until we are blue in the face that we put our hope in Jesus to heal and fix and raise again, but we rarely go to Him. We talk about Him, but do not dwell with Him. Are you actively, consistently, and hopingly placing your life into His hands?
Third, who are your counselors? If this heartbroken dad had gone to and listened to the gathered crowd, he would not have gone to Jesus. What do you think would have happened if he said, "My daughter is dead, but Jesus can save her?" The crowd that easily laughed in the face of the known miracle worker, would have talked him out of it. With statements like, "That's just your grief talking. Death is final. The sooner you accept 'reality' the quicker you will heal. Don't waste your time, false hope will just make you sadder."
And if he had listened....his daughter would be dead. He took his heartache and pain and hope and placed it as the feet of Jesus. And Jesus responded.
We need to recognize that people who tell us to give up(in as many words) are lying to us. Not intentionally. But they are. This does not mean that everything that YOU want to happen in the WAY you want it to happen will occur. But without Jesus death IS final. With Jesus, NOTHING IS OVER.
Who are you listening to? People who point you not to answers, or solutions, but to Jesus? Or people who tell you to give up, accept death, move on? Whether Jesus brings your "child" back to "life" or not, HE WILL GIVE YOU NEW LIFE. The power of the Cross promises that even in death, with Christ as our Hope, beauty, hope, new life, will always be the answer He provides.
There is nothing in your life with more permanence than actual death. And Jesus has beaten it!
1 Corinthians 15:54-56
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”[a]
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
Where, O death, is your sting?”[b]
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.