063 Living with Loss
Mark 5, 22-36
My Sermon today, is entitled “Living with Loss” and is a study of the after-effects of Bereavement.
Most of you listening today, will at some time or other have experienced Bereavement, the passing away of loved ones dear and precious to you. It may be in the loss of Parents or Grandparents, as advancing years have taken from you those who had a great influence on your childhood and earlier life, and you miss them greatly today. It may be in the loss of a Partner, someone who had shared most of your adult life and with whom you had many happy days and still have many happy memories. Yet your home life is simply “not the same” since the day they left you for ever. It may be some tragic and heartrending events that have taken your child away “before their time” you believe, and the pain and hurt you carry every hour is beyond words, and at times beyond belief. A little while ago, I shed tears while reading the heartbreaking story of a young couple who lost both their 8 and 10 year old boys on Christmas Eve, as they fell through the ice on a frozen pond. Can you imagine the heart-ache that they have endured every day since?
The pain of bereavement, the private and personal pain which many of us carry, including the children of God, can become disabling and destroying to the Christian Character and Personality. The tears we have shed often go unnoticed, the sleep-less nights go un-recorded, and the remarks of others, caring or otherwise are often unhelpful, for the pain and ache we feel in the heart is unending.
In today’s Gospel, we have the lovely story of the “Raising of Jairus’s Daughter”. …. and in the moments left to me now, I want to examine and explore this story in greater detail, for I am convinced that God has a Comforting word in it, for every bereaved and hurting listener! Let us read again from
Mark 5: verse :22 “And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet,” This verse shows us that Jairus was a religious man, a “ruler of the synagogue” obviously a man in authority, one highly respected, and one understanding the ways and works of God. Maybe you don’t fall into those categories, and today you feel a stranger to God, and a stranger to his house? Indeed you may feel in your private and personal pain that it would be pointless to ask God for help, since you don’t know him, but dear friend, Jesus is waiting, willing and ready to come to your help today. Jesus always waits to lift up the broken-hearted and wipe the tears from the eyes of those who cry. Whether you are a believer or not, the pain you bear, and the tears you shed are just as real, and none of us, as we shall see, are exempt from heart-ache and heart-break. Yet I hope that finding there is comfort in Jesus you will want to turn your whole life over to his Lordship and control. We read that as soon as Jairus saw Jesus “he fell at his feet.” These are the actions of a “desperate” man, a man in the despair of losing his child, his daughter, the love of his life!
Listen for a moment to his words, …..
v:23 “And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live”.
The little girl had not yet died, but was “lying at the threshold of death” and the pain which Jairus was feeling was unbearable and the fear and dread of the future without that little girl, was unthinkable. There have been times in your despair, when you too have been sobbing at the feet of Jesus, times when you have felt alone, forsaken, impoverished, and abandoned. For Jairus there was no other hope, but that which lay in Jesus. There was no-one in the synagogue, no-one in his circle of religious good-living friends, who could offer him any help or hope in this his darkest hour. Death had not yet come, but the dark clouds were closing in around him, the mid-night was approaching, the horror of events to come had already overtaken him. I expect there have been times like that in your experience also. Times when you have believed that there was no earthly help, and no brighter day to dawn ever again. Times when the memories of the laughter and words of your dear one, pulled as it seemed a chunk from your heart, and tore a hole in your emotions. Little items of clothing, little personal effects, were like sparks and flames that burned deeply into the flesh of your soul, and left you feeling even more empty. Down there in the dust, just like Jairus, is where you were, no one saw you, no one heard you sob your heart out, no one noticed, and it seemed no-one cared enough to cry with you. But it is not true, for there was one who saw you, one who knew you, one who wept with you, one who loved you, one who waited to help you, but first you needed to get to that place where like Jairus you were at his feet, waiting on him. He still loves you and your changing circumstances cannot change the heart of God, nor can life’s struggles lessen, effect or alter his purpose and plan for you.
Now look what happens, … once Jairus had acknowledged his need of Jesus, and acknowledged that there was on-one else who
could help him, we read …
v:24 “And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him”.
This , the most simple phrase in the story, JESUS WENT WITH HIM, is nevertheless the most profound, and if you can grasp its significance, it will change the way in which you are coping and dealing with your grief, and your loss, both now, and in the future. The text simply tells us that Jesus journeyed on beside him, walked on, on the road together with Jairus, in the direction of his home and his ailing daughter. Mark records that many people thronged around Jesus at this time, and Luke in His Gospel narrative tells us the same thing, and on the journey, a woman which had suffered from an internal haemorrhage for more than twelve years, came and touched the hem of His garment and was instantly healed! This was a wonderful miracle, and always worthy of mention, but it is to Jairus, that I want you to look, to this man who in the desperation of the impending death of his daughter,
walked along the road with Jesus.
This is what I want to think about, what it means to walk beside Jesus, to walk the road with Jesus. Look for a moment at Jairus’s face; gone I believe are the frowns of despair, gone are the marks of his tears, gone are the looks of depression and sorrow, and gone is the air of fear! Instead, I see Jairus with a smile; it wasn’t there a while ago, in fact it has not been present for some time, but he is radiant now. I can hear his silent boast, “do you see this? …do you see who is walking with me? …do you see that this is the King, King Jesus, he is coming with me, ME Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, unworthy of his company, unworthy of his grace, unworthy of his favour, yet that’s Him, that’s Jesus
walking beside me, coming home with me. Coming to MY house, to MY daughter, to My dilemma, to My despair, Jesus is with me, my friend, my companion in the way, my Saviour!
Picture them walking together, Jairus and the King, God and Man walking side by side: can you see it, can you imagine it?
A few months ago, I visited the Royal Palace in Madrid Spain. This is the sometime home of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia, but I was not visiting at their invitation. Instead while visiting my Brother and Sister-in law, in Madrid I took the tour of the Royal Palace and nearby Cathedral. My Sister-in-law and I walked across the royal courtyard, and sat for a few moments, prayerfully, in the silence of the grand and ornate Cathedral. In those moments a King came and sat beside us! It was not King Juan Carlos, but King Jesus, for we were in the House of God, a place of Prayer and a place of meditation. Imagine my joy, my uncontrollable delight if that had been the King Juan Carlos, I would have wanted a picture, a photographic memory of the event, a memory of that moment that hour, captured on film for ever. Yet the one who sat with us was “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords”. Please don’t misunderstand me, I was delighted to have the presence and peace of God with me at that moment, as I am at every moment of life, but unfortunately I honestly don’t always act and react as if He were beside me.
If we can train ourselves to understand that God in the person of the Holy Spirit walks with us, and is in us as Christians, then our whole living will be different.
Jairus could walk with Jesus that day on that journey home, knowing that Jesus would have a solution, Jesus would have an answer, Jesus would know the end from the beginning, and that Jesus would be glorified in it all. Jesus knows the ending of
every story, he is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. There is never any panic in heaven.
I can say today, as I hope you can, yes I have suffered loss, yes I have shed tears, yes I have asked why, yes I have no answers, and yes I am not alone, for I have Jesus with me. The Psalmist could say: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in Spirit. Psalm 34:18
Are you beginning to see what I can see in the Gospel, are you beginning to notice the simplicity and significance of the text, that if you can get to the place of “seeing by faith” that Jesus is walking beside you, walking beside you every moment of every hour of every day, then how you deal with your loss will be so very different.
But there is something more about this companionship of walk that I see in the Scriptures and must share with you today.
In Isaiah 41:13 we have a beautiful verse about the walk of life, the pilgrim journey of every child of God. Let me read it to you ” I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, “do not fear, I will help you”!
We are not told if Jesus took hold of Jairus by the hand that day as they walked, some men are afraid to clasp another by the hand, but God does, (and if I come to pray for you in your home or hospital ward, whether male or female, I will take you by the hand as I pray) for God takes my hand, and yours, and says comfortingly to us, “don’t be afraid, I will help you”
Today, you may no longer take hold the hand of your dear one, … but you can take hold of the hand of God!
Fanny Crosby the blind hymn writer said:
For a number of days before I wrote the hymn,
HOLD THOU MY HAND
all had seemed dark to me. That was indeed an unusual
experience, for I have always been most cheerful; and so in my human weakness I cried in prayer, ‘Dear Lord, hold thou my hand.’ Almost at once the sweet peace that comes of perfect assurance returned to my heart, and my gratitude for this evidence of answered prayer sang itself in the lines of the hymn. Let me read it ….
Hold Thou my hand; so weak I am, and helpless,
I dare not take one step without Thy aid;
Hold Thou my hand; for then, O loving Saviour,
No dread of ill shall make my soul afraid.
Hold Thou my hand, and closer, closer draw me
To Thy dear self—my hope, my joy, my all;
Hold Thou my hand, lest haply I should wander,
And, missing Thee, my trembling feet should fall.
Hold Thou my hand; the way is dark before me
Without the sunlight of Thy face divine;
But when by faith I catch its radiant glory,
What heights of joy, what rapturous songs are mine!
Hold Thou my hand, that when I reach the margin
Of that lone river Thou didst cross for me,
A heavenly light may flash along its waters,
And every wave like crystal bright shall be.
In the journey of your life and mine, on this our pilgrim pathway, there will be many times, when we will need to grasp firmly the hand of God, we may stumble otherwise, but we can be assured that he will walk with us every step of the way. He has promised that He will never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5) and you can be sure that his foot-prints will mark every road, side by side with yours, unless of course he carries you part of the way! (you know that story?)
For a while, it appears that Jairus completely forgot the purpose for that walk, but things were about to change. Nearing his home, one of his servants appeared
“which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further? “
But verse 36 says “As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, (Jairus,) Be not afraid, only believe.”
One of the reasons why we grieve, why we sorrow, and why we fear is that we don’t believe that things will be OK, that things will be resolved within the plan and purposes of God.
Jesus told Jairus to fear not, only believe. What was it that Jairus needed to believe. Of course he believed in Jesus, in who he was, the Son of God, the great teacher, the great preacher, the great miracle worker, the great saviour, the great physician, but that is not what Jesus was asking him to believe in. I expect that in your days of sorrow and care, you also believe all those things about Jesus, but that alone does not lessen your pain nor ease your sense of loss. Instead, Jesus was asking Jairus to have confidence in Him. Jesus always knows more about the situation than we think, and certainly more about things than we know. You see Jesus knew about the end of this story, for we read in …
v:39” And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth“.
Things were not as they appeared to the people gathered in that house of mourning and sorrow. It looked like “death” had called, but that was only “how it looked”. Gods word, the word made flesh, the word personified, said otherwise. Jesus said “she is only asleep” and he called her to rise up, and they gave her something to eat. “Fear not, only believe” things are not
always as they seem to appear, while we see but our side of the picture, God sees his side. I believe that Jesus says to us all today, “Believe me, things are not as they appear, there is more to all of this than you can see right now. Walk with me, hold my hand, we will journey on together into the future and I will show you, just like I showed to Jairus, that what you thought was over, is not over, what you thought had ended, is not finished, and what you thought was past, is yet to come.”
NOW THIS FINAL WORD
I referred a while ago to two loving Parents whose 8 and 10 year old Boys were tragically drowned in the icy waters of a frozen pond on Christmas Eve. I believe that both Children went immediately into the nearer presence of Jesus, and will be with him in the Glory for all eternity. This tragedy had a profound effect on both parents, especially on the Boys Father, who a few days after their funeral, tearfully prayed; “Oh God, whatever it takes, I want to be with my two Boys again” At that time this man was not a Christian, a church goer, a good man, an honest character, a hard worker, but had it been him that lost his life at that time, one asks the question would that family have been together in Heaven? Thankfully this man is a Christian today, and both he and his wife have totally surrendered themselves and their future to the Saviour. What looks like a tragedy from this side, will look like a blessing from Heavens side.
In 1 Corinthians 13.12. We read “now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face, then shall we know even as also we are known” There is a revelation coming in eternity when we shall fully understand all the “whys” and unanswered questions of this life! Much of your life may appear right now to be a tangled web of differing threads stretching from Childhood, through Teenage years to Adulthood, to Marriage or maybe
Divorce, to Bereavement or maybe Bankruptcy, to Cancer
or a Care-home, Disability or Death! Who knows, the variety of Chapters that go to make up the story of your life and mine. I am always comforted in the knowledge that while I only see my side of the story, God has his side too. I see the under-side but he sees the upper-side; I may see only a tangled web of threads, but he sees the pattern.
This is put so succinctly in the lovely poem called…
My Life is but a Weaving Between my Lord and me
I do not choose the colours, He worketh steadily
Oft’ times he weaveth Sorrow And I in foolish Pride
Forget He sees the Upper and I the Under-side
Not ’till the loom is Silent And the shuttle cease to fly
Will God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why
The dark threads were as needful in the Skilful Weavers Hand
as the threads of Gold and Silver in the Pattern He has planned
God knows the whole Story, trust him to complete the chapter!
One Hymn writer put it this way:
“above the rest this note shall swell, My Jesus has done all things well”
you see …no complaints in heaven!
As you live with your Loss, may God grant you grace every day to replace the feelings of impoverishment, with the faith of enrichment. For His greater Glory,