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Endurance Under Trials - Mark 5:21-43



[Read Mark 5:21-43]

 

Endurance Under Trials

A man and woman inherited a vacation home in a desirable location, in a place they had never been, but a place they trusted to be very beautiful – and it truly was beautiful.

The drive there, however, was treacherous. A long drive with dangers along the way: Washed out roads, highway robbers, expensive gasoline, bad coffee, boredom – and breakdowns and accidents, mistreatment from other travelers – even illness and death.

This man and woman endured for several long hours but eventually got so discouraged that they turned off and got a hotel room in a small roadside town.

The stay there was not very good either, but they couldn’t bring themselves to get back on the road. There they stayed, and there they eventually died years later.

Little did they know, all those years, their vacation home was just over the next hill. They quit too early. Giving in to discouragement caused their temporary trial to become a permanent loss.

This is called despair – a person leaves the road of faith in Christ – or puts life in Christ on pause, for longer and longer and eventually forever — because of discouraging trials. What would have been a temporary trial becomes an eternal loss.  

But that’s not what happens with the suffering woman and the distressed father in our Gospel reading today! One endures a very long trial. The other a very severe trial. They turn to Christ and do not give up.

The woman in our Gospel had been suffering from a discharge of blood for twelve years. Twelve years of bodily distress. Twelve years of social disruption because of the nature of her condition.

And twelve years of being financially broke – she “suffered much under many doctors, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse.”

All that time, she didn’t know it would be done in twelve years. Maybe the next doctor visit would fix it; or maybe it would never end. Every year, she didn’t know if there was an end in sight.

We don’t know how well this woman endured under trial throughout those twelve years. We don’t know if she always remained steadfast or if she despaired and gave up at times.

But in today’s Gospel, she sees Jesus. And she knows in herself that, somehow, this Jesus is her answer, saying in herself, “If I touch even His garments, I will be made well.” 

While she’s dealing with this, Jesus is traveling along with that man in distress – a ruler of the town synagogue – whose daughter is at the point of death. The ultimate blow, death, and not in himself, but in his child. The worst nightmare.

In the face of death, the man flees to Jesus. “Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing Jesus, he fell at Jesus’ feet and implored Him earnestly – he prayed – saying, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay Your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.’ And Jesus went with him.”

As the man is approaching home, with Jesus at his side, he is told to give up – “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 

But Jesus hears and says, “Do not fear, only believe” – “believe” – “have faith, have trust in Me.” “Continue to trust in Me for this”, Jesus is saying.

Death in the family is not too great a trial for Jesus to be your Savior in. “Taking her by the hand Jesus said to her, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’ And immediately the girl got up…” 

The girl’s death was not greater than Jesus’ ability to be her Savior and Savior to her grieving parents. In such a trial, “Do not fear; only believe.”

And the length of twelve years did not mean that there was no end in sight for the woman suffering from the discharge of blood – “Immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” – “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

The woman could have given up hope after eleven years to never see that twelfth, like the couple in my made-up story who quit the road too early. With Jesus, temporary trials need never become permanent loss.

The man could have given up at those words, “Why trouble the Teacher any further?”, and never seen what Jesus was about to do for him so soon. With Jesus, death ends with the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, which is soon to come.

Your Savior Jesus has not set you on the road alone but wants you to continue troubling Him – calling upon Him in prayer – until He fulfills His purpose in each trial. We don’t know the reason, but there was a reason for the length of that woman’s trial and the severity of that man’s trial.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” [Romans 8:28]

You are His beloved children, called by name in Baptism according to His purpose. In trials, “we walk by faith, not by sight” [2 Corinthians 5:7], believing God’s goodness without demanding sight to first see the result, but trusting Him to be Lord.

There are trials of bodily illness. Trials of the death of loved ones or of facing our own death. Trials of doubt or of difficulty accepting aspects of our Christian beliefs. There is the trial of a guilty conscience about the past. And trials of temptations to sin in the present.

We should not give up hope at the eleventh hour but instead trust that Christ’s answer and aid is coming at the twelfth. His help is always in front of us. He does not fail to keep His promises.

Jesus, in fact, has never abandoned you in any trial. Instead, He is the One who has already made all your trials His own on the cross.

On the cross Jesus fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases” [Matthew 8:17] – “Surely, He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” And, “He was pierced for our transgressions” – “the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” [Isaiah 53:4-6]

All suffering of the body and all anguish of the soul – and all that comes with our sin-fallen condition – all earthly trials and all eternal hell – was taken up into His flesh and soul on the cross for you.

He absorbed it all. He is your Savior in all your trials, having made them all His own.

Jesus, who suffered all trials, is now living and risen from the dead. Now, in trials and temptations He is carrying you through all that He has conquered. Any trial. Any temptation.

The answers may not come as soon as we would like in this life. And the answers might not always be what we would like in this life. But, every time, His purpose as your loving Savior is fulfilled.

His purpose in this life is our sanctification, to make us a holy people [1 Thessalonians 4:3]. Like gold and steel, He is purifying and strengthening us by fire – by trials, endured in faith – to make us more and more the men and women we ought to be.

Our final inheritance is that we will, finally, be the men and women we ought to be. Holy, without spot or blemish. No longer sinners. This inheritance is finally ours at the end of the road – in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

“And I am sure of this”, Scripture says, “that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” [Philippians 1:6]

So, let’s trust that our Savior will succeed at bringing us to our final inheritance, and let’s not become discouraged by trials along the way. Amen.

 

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