Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Power Over Death

A young girl was terminally ill with cancer and close to death. Her mother sat by her bedside crying and pleading with God to perform a miracle and heal her daughter.    

After several weeks, the cancer ran its course and the young girl died.

The mother, in her grief, was angry at God for not answering her prayer for her daughter. Eventually, she sought comfort by talking to the deacon in her parish. She asked him, "Why didn't God heal my daughter?" The deacon, at first, felt at a loss as to what answer to give this woman who was in so much pain. As she cried, he put his head down and said a silent prayer to the Holy Spirit to help him give her a word of comfort. Finally, the deacon raised his head and said to the mother, "Your daughter is healed now." At those words, the mother stopped crying and looked out the window to think about what he had said. She thanked him and left with the comforting thought that her daughter was now in God's hands safe from all harm.

Each of us at one time or another has been faced with a desperate situation and have begged God for a miracle. It might have been for a loved one who was sick or in trouble. It might have been for ourselves. But chances are that the miracle we asked for didn't take place. We might have been left wondering why God didn't seem to answer us. We probably thought that miracles were just something that happened in Jesus' time and not in modern times. Or we may have wondered if we had too little faith to ask so much of God. It could be that most of us have given up on asking for or expecting miracles. And so gospel stories like today's in which Jesus raises a little girl from the dead sometimes hold little meaning for us.

It is true that Jesus did perform many miracles while he walked the earth. He healed the sick, he drove out demons, he turned water into wine, he walked on the water, and he raised the dead. They were all powerful works demonstrating his mastery over nature, over sin and over death. Those mighty deeds proved to all who witnessed them that Jesus was no ordinary preacher but the Son of God. Nonetheless, no matter how marvelous his show of power was, Jesus always told those who were healed by him that the miracle was the easy part. What was truly amazing was not the healing, but the faith in the heart of the person who asked for his help. What impressed Jesus more than anything else was the simple faith he encountered in the people he met. And it was because of it that he was moved to perform mighty acts of power and compassion on their behalf.

It is important for us to remember that everyone whom Jesus healed and raised from the dead eventually got sick again and died. The healing was only temporary. What was permanent was the faith in the heart of those who were touched by him. That faith leads to the ultimate healing - everlasting life with God in heaven. We must never lose sight of the fact that any answers to our prayers which we receive during our lives on earth are only partial solutions. Problems and difficulties come and go. We probably don't remember today what we were asking God for last week. What endures - what has lasting value - is our relationship with God. And that relationship is based on faith - the faith that God loves us, that he has power over whatever trials we are facing, and that he can make all things work for our good and for our salvation.

All this being said, we must never stop going to Jesus for help whenever we are faced with problems. Those difficulties are an opportunity for us to exercise our faith. By bringing our concerns to our heavenly Father we grow in the trust that he does love and care for us. And our eyes are opened to the way in which he is acting in our lives already making our faith grow and perfecting the gifts of his grace within us. Faith is not only about getting God to do something for us. It is also about being able to recognize how God is answering our prayers in ways we could never imagine. And that is the real miracle.

Miracles do continue to happen in our day. By the power of faith, people experience healings that defy medical explanations. In those cases, it served God's glory to show forth his power in a virtually undeniable way so that others could be brought to faith in him. For most of us, however, God will work in subtle and hidden ways. It will go unnoticed at first or seem like a coincidence, but it will eventually be made clear to us that it was Almighty God who was working to bring us the healing we needed. We should witness to how God has worked in our lives in small ways with as much joy and wonder as we would if he had worked in miraculous ways. What is most important is not the mighty deed but the mighty faith alive in our hearts unlocking God's power for the salvation of the world.

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